Crafting Shakespeare
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Crafting Shakespeare

building quality performances from the text up

About the Book

Verse acting can be presented as complex and technical. Crafting Shakespeare is a succinct, basic how-to on getting started with verse acting, told in a reassuring and simple style. The actor maintains complete creative control in this easy-to-use system. Throw off your fear of "rules" and craft your own performance, from the text up!

[The PDF is in 8.5 x 11, so you can easily print it at home if you don't have an ereader!]

Crafting Shakespeare is designed for the experienced actor who is new to verse acting, so it's also a fun behind-the-scenes peek for audience members. Readers of Shakespeare will see the plays transformed from literature to living script. If you're an actor who is new to verse, you really need this book! There's really no other simple how-to on the market. As an actor and dramaturg myself, it's my life's goal to get this information out in a clear way to help all other actors learn to wield verse.

Here's what some folks are saying about Crafting Shakespeare on Facebook:

"Jill K. Swanson is an extraordinarily talented actor, with a real knack for understanding and explaining verse handling in Shakepseare. If you're looking for some guidance or a new approach to your language work, she's a great go-to. I'm so excited that this is available. " -- Beth Burns, Artistic Director and Matriarch of The Hidden Room Theatre

"[Jill is] one of the brightest, Bardiest people I know, and she really knows her stuff when it comes to pulling apart Shakespeare's verse and turning it into performance. I've had the pleasure of acting alongside her, and being directed by her, and I'd do both again in a heartbeat. The book is currently a work in progress, but you get to read it as it comes out, and it's well worth the $10." -- Robert Stevens, actor

About the Author

Jill K. Swanson
Jill K. Swanson

Ms. Swanson has performed Shakespeare for 24 years. Trained at Florida State University, she moved to Austin in 1995 and has worked with Austin Shakespeare and other local companies as an actor, dramaturg, coach and director ever since.

Table of Contents

  • A Letter From The Author (updated with each revision)
  • A Note About Formatting
  • Chapter 1: This Magic Moment
    • The New English Theatre
    • Iambic Pentameter Verse Form, As The Wits Wrote It
    • Verse Mimics Speech
    • Shakespeare’s Evolution
  • Chapter 2: Verse vs. Prose
    • It’s Not About Class…
    • …It’s About the Stakes
    • When It’s Hard To Tell Which It Is
  • Chapter 3: How Verse Works
    • Metrical Feet
    • Feet in Lines
    • Iambic Pentameter
    • Line Patterns Show Emotion
    • Iambic Pentameter: The Emotional Baseline
    • Broken Meter: The Emotion Detector
    • Where Did It All Go Wrong?
    • Playable Verse
    • Subtext In Shakespeare (A Public Service Announcement)
  • Chapter 4: Understanding What You’re Saying
    • Verse Is Highly Word-Dependent
    • Working Out “What The Lines Mean”
    • The Paraphrase (“Translating” Your Lines)
    • Defining Words
    • Untangling Syntax
    • Learning Archaic References
    • Paraphrases That Are Really Subtext
    • Word-play And Double-speak
    • Some Other Sticky Wickets
    • Don’t Forget Your Dramaturg
    • When To Do a Gloss on Your Lines
  • Chapter 5: Thou and You
    • Formal vs. Informal
    • The Mechanics of Thou
  • Chapter 6: How To Scan Your Text
    • Say The Line However Feels Best For You
    • Mark Your Text
  • Chapter 7: Operatives
    • Using Operatives To Get Your Point Across
    • Operatives and Subtext
    • Conjunctions Make Good Signposts
    • Operatives in Verse
    • Don’t Crowd The Line With Operatives
    • The “Two Operatives Per Line” Tool
    • Are there words I shouldn’t stress?
    • When “Tools” Collide
  • Chapter 8: Holding the Line
    • Reading Between the Lines
    • Driving to The End of the Verse Line
    • The Good Stuff’s At The End
    • Thinking Ahead
    • Weighting the Break
    • Holding The Floor By Holding the Line: Speeches
    • Short Lines
    • Shared Lines
    • What To Do With This
  • Chapter 9: Only a Little Off: Feminine Endings
    • The Fifth Foot Stumbles: The Feminine Ending
    • Coming On Strong: The Masculine Beginning
    • Reading the Verse of Each Line
    • How You Can Use This To Do What You Want
    • Pausing After A Feminine Ending
  • Chapter 10: Taking Control of Your Verse
    • Freedom!
    • Switching Out Metrical Feet
    • This Is The Fun Part!
  • Chapter ?: Prose Structure

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