Preparing my Shakespeare Monologue (1): Previous Impressions on Lady Anne

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As part of the Masterclass with Helen Mirren, here’s a look at the process I’m following to prepare the main exercise, a Shakespeare Monologue.

So,  as I pointed in my return post, this is the year when I decided to put all my stuff in order, which means:

  1. Get rid of my health problems for once and for all (It’s the main reason I’ve been away from this blog for so long, sorry).
  2. Finally get a job, and if it can be a job related to what I love (Theatre, Cinema, and/or Television) the better.
  3. Do stuff that I’ve always wanted to do.

And in that last point, you can include taking acting classes.

Since I’ve been a lil child, I’ve always wanted to take acting classes. For some reason, my plans always ended up thwarted and  instead my path went through Writing and Costume Designing.  My experience in acting so far could be summed in the Kindergartner plays, one year taken as an extracurricular in High School, a short course on Meyerhold, and a year in community theatre.

Not that bad, but if you ask me, definitely not enough.

So, as a birthday present, I decided I wanted to try again. Even if my health problems might not allow me, I found that the site* offered, among others, a masterclass on acting by none other than Helen Mirren herself.

So, aside from going all YAS QUEEN,  I had to check it.

And my nerdy little Shakespearean heart went in full on squee mode when I saw that course drew heavily on his work, as it was Helen Mirren’s very own acting classes.

So I joined it.


But anyhow, back to what matters.

The main exercise in this course is to prepare a monologue from any of Shakespeare’s plays.

And, of course, knowing me, I had one very hard time choosing the monologue.

But also knowing me, it was obvious that I was going to end up picking one from the Histories. I’m kinda predictable like that.

So the monologue I picked was Lady Anne Neville’s very first monologue in Richard III “Set down, set down your honourable load.”

And before we were going to start reading, one of the exercises was to write down our  thoughts on the character before we started the reading (in my case rereading!) of the play. Here are mine:

One of the things I really love about Lady Anne, is that Shakespeare allows her to be angry in an ugly way. She displays a viciousness towards Richard that I think is only actually surpassed by the one shown by Margaret, who was her mother-in-law. (Btw I think it would have been amazing if they had shared scenes beyond the one previous to Richard’s coronation)

I also see her as a person that, while capable of great hatred (I’ll talk about it soon) is also capable of great love, proved by the fact that she actually leads the funeral procession of her father-in-law (Though I still wonder why she actually leaves the corpse to Richard? Maybe it is to give him a chance to ingratiate himself with her but I am not particularly sure, specially considering my stance on her feelings towards him), but also rushes to the defence of her nephews when the moment comes.

This being said, I don’t think she is actually in love/seduced/deceived by Richard. I think that she is in the textbook definition of an awful situation at the start of the play: Her father, her husband, and her father-in-law are dead, she has no one to protect her since, well, Margaret is pretty much destitute and doing her own thing.

And the man responsible for all her disgraces comes to the funeral in which she is the only actual attendant save for the guards. (Talk about being callous and rubbing salt on the wound).

I don’t buy for a second that she falls to his pretty words. She simply decides that, well, she is going to die sooner or later, perhaps better do it later and in comfortable surroundings than early and in poverty. So she is one lil adaptative lady (even with the intensity of her opinions and feelings, for the better and for the worse)

Of course, this all comes to kick her in the bum later, and she would have probably done better by actually killing Richard, but then we would not have a play)

And here are my two cents before I throw myself to the rereading of the play.

There’ll be more posts on the matter in the next weeks as I prepare myself for the monologue.

(*Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with in any other capacity than that of a user/student, and thus I do not receive any money  for this post)

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