Why Actors Should Honor The Writer

“Give me my Romeo. And when I shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.”- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is one of the most well known stories in literature, and to me, one of the most misunderstood. I found my love for theatre when I was 10 years old. I have always loved reading stories, but when I was a part of making one come to life, something ignited within me. I started to read and study every play I could — reading the ones I could understand, and attempting to read the ones that I didn’t quite get yet. When I read Romeo and Juliet my freshmen year of highschool, I was a bit disappointed and didn’t understand all the hype, or how Shakespeare got so famous for writing it. I agreed with my fellow freshmen peers thinking, “how is this one of the greatest love stories of all time Mrs. French?” (Who was ironically my english teacher.) “It’s two stupid, hormonal teenagers who are infatuated with one another and kill themselves in the end,” I thought. “But it is so much more.” Mrs. French would always reply. My senior year of highschool comes and I get cast in Romeo and Juliet, and oh how my perspective had changed.

The key to have a long and exciting career as an actor is understanding the writer. My high school theatre teacher always had us reading and studying, not only the play we were reading, but the playwright as well. Anywhere from Tennessee Williams, to Henry Gibson, of course Shakespeare. Everyone disliked her for making us read so much, but it all made sense when I got casted in Romeo and Juliet and read the play with the eyes of an actor. I fell in love. How the adolescent passion was expressed through language was just remarkable to me. Instead of seeing ignorance, naiveness, and infatuation I saw innocence and the character’s inability to understand consequence.

When you study plays and you’re activated by the ideas of the writer, that is when you get a Daniel Day-Lewis or a Meryl Streep.

When you study plays and you’re activated by the ideas of the writer, that is when you get a Daniel Day-Lewis or a Meryl Streep, because they come from the theatre — they honor writers. Meryl Streep did 40 plays at Yale before she ever hit New York. Usually, if you are going through a dry season in your acting career or you feel like your passion is fleeting, it’s probably because you haven’t fallen in love with writing. Meryl Streep is an incredible actress, because she is so committed to bringing the person that the writer wrote to life. You see her in Sophie’s Choice and then The Bridges of Madison, one character is Polish and the other Italian, her body language is extraordinary. Watch her without sound, study her physical behavior, and then turn the sound on and listen to her accent work, her rhythms, rhymes and tempos. Characters are created by the writers. Want to know the character? Know the writer first. Honor the writer and invest time in reading great literature that has made history.

Video production school attendee Evan!Klancy Baker is a 20-year-old film student who adores the art of acting and writing scripts. She’s lived all across America and hopes to travel the globe. She would like to thank her mom for never encouraging her to wear shoes when she could walk barefoot.

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