Stand up for Shakespeare

”One, three, five, six, Eight, TEN FAST, FASTER STOP CLAP HOP STOP”. That’s how Shakespeare started for us. Our class had marched into the auditorium about five minutes before, not knowing what to expect. Our morale was not so very well and mostly we wanted the day to be over. Shakespeare, theatre, feeling “bescheuert”; we weren’t that excited.

A middle aged, unshaven man was waiting for us there. He was somewhat round, very British, scarce-haired and wore neon sneakers, baggy jeans and a short sleeved tee. We weren’t blown out of the water yet.

“My name is Julius”, and that’s how he cast his spell on us. In a very non-supercilious manner- which is tough enough with a haughty London accent- he summed up his acting career in two three sentences and got straight to the punch.

Julius’ energy and fiery passion for the theatre infected all of us in the blink of an eye. He talked with his grande voice that filled the salle and we mimicked him.

Pretty soon all of us were crying out, making u-turns for every piece of punctuation within the monologues, acting out scenes, whose script we had gotten some minutes before- and that almost in a dogmatic way. The exercise changed and we were our class no more. There was no Malin, Jonas, Max, Emmanuel, Linnea we were Macbeth or Lady Macbeth. The slithering snakes beneath the pretty flowers, or the unwitting heroes who were slowly being manipulated into carrying out a murder.

“Shakespeare is not to be read he is to be acted out”, Julius said. He explained the masterfulness with which the skewed interpersonal relationships, the power of women over their husbands, sex, power, fall and rise of kingdoms had been crafted by Shakespeare. It followed the separation of our class into two clans, one with “Versace suits and Maseratis” and one with “Dolce&Gabbana suits and Ferraris”. They hated each other to death and he took one person from the clan and explained him/her what situation they were in and suddenly they morphed into them, raging against Juliet who rejected her father’s demand to marry Paris.

The bell rang and it was 14:15, but nobody wanted to leave and when we ended our last exercise we were all sizzling with energy Julius had charged us with. And like the enlightened people we had become we swerved away from the room to each and everyone’s daily lives, with a new understanding of Shakespeare’s theatre and some of us so much inspired that a future as an actor was not that unimaginable anymore. But it was not just drama we learned, we learned about life, relationships, love, hatred and fears that everyone has. And what had been obscure and seemingly irrelevant became very much relevant to us.

by Emmanuel, Andrada, Tobias, Linnea 12b