Ken Tucker on ''The Working Shakespeare Library'' -- Our DVD critic gives his takes on a new release about a master class with the voice director of the Royal Shakespeare Company

By Ken Tucker
Updated June 23, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
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The Working Shakespeare Library

type
  • Movie

Ken Tucker on ”The Working Shakespeare Library”

The five discs of The Working Shakespeare Library (Unrated, 449 mins., 2006) take you through a thorough master class conducted by Cicely Berry, voice director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. You see actors both unknown and well-known (such as Samuel L. Jackson, Blythe Danner, Cherry Jones, and Robert Sean Leonard), dressed down to be dressed down, in the most polite way, by Berry. She’s a white-haired British woman who instructs students in the proper way to recite the iambic pentameter of Shakespeare’s plays with the maximum amount of understanding and expressiveness. Sure, it’s fun to see the likes of Broadway vet/Alias star Victor Garber run around a room trying to emote while reading lines from the page he’s holding. And sure, it’s fun to hear the proper Berry recite an acting maxim — ”being on the word” — that sounds like a James Brown command (being ”on the one”) and means the same thing: recognizing where to come down on the rhythm of a line. But follow along seriously, and do the breathing and vocal exercises, and you’ll feel an increasing resonance in your speaking voice, and Shakespeare will make you want to read — nay, declaim forcefully — Titus Andronicus and other Bard hits.

The Working Shakespeare Library

type
  • Movie
mpaa

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