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TOPIC: Berowne's speech

Berowne's speech 6 years 9 months ago #1504

  • James
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I'm trying to get into drama school and I've chosen Berowne's - And I, forsooth, in love - speech. I'm having a little trouble with it to be honest. Has anyone got any suggestions or advice please ?

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Berowne's speech 6 years 9 months ago #1507

First of all, you should really choose a speech that you have some sort of connection with. That'd make things easier right off the bat. But since you've chosen that speech, here goes...

Berowne, like early-Benedick, is railing against falling in love, citing all the reasons why he would never be in love. Over the course of the speech he's conflicted about this. You might try going line by line to see how & when this transformation happens.

You also might want to cut the speech because it's a bit too long for an audition piece. A possible cutting might be:
O, and I, forsooth, in love! I, that have been love's whip,
A critic, nay, a night-watch constable,
Than whom no mortal so magnificent!
This wimpled, whining, purblind, wayward boy,
This senior-junior, giant-dwarf, Don Cupid,
Regent of love-rhymes, lord of folded arms,
Th' anointed sovereign of sighs and groans,
Dread prince of plackets, king of codpieces,
And I to be a corporal of his field,
And wear his colors like a tumbler's hoop!
What! I love, I sue, I seek a wife—
Nay, to be perjur'd, which is worst of all;
And among three to love the worst of all,
A whitely wanton with a velvet brow,
With two pitch-balls stuck in her face for eyes;
Ay, and, by heaven, one that will do the deed
Though Argus were her eunuch and her guard.
And I to sigh for her, to watch for her,
To pray for her, go to! It is a plague
That Cupid will impose for my neglect
Of his almighty dreadful little might.
Well, I will love, write, sigh, pray, sue, groan:
Some men must love my lady, and some Joan.

I changed the word "Dan" to "Don" because it makes more sense to a modern ear (same meaning though). A "Joan" is not a specific person but any young lady of the period.

If you have the extra audition time, leave the speech as the original because it makes a better build-up (and therefore easier for the actor) to the idea that he is actually in love. Time it and see.

Full text is here:
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Berowne's speech 6 years 9 months ago #1508

  • Joe M.
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What kind of ...little trouble? It's difficult to troubleshoot without some specific target areas--otherwise, for the "general" help you might as well read a character synopsis. Since it's most important to play specifics; what's bugging you the most about the speech?--having language, verse, scanning, imagery, metaphor, rhythm, timing,...etc. problems?--the list goes on--be specific. Don't over-analyze--especially at first; these are huge characters and commonalities are usually very general. Focus on the words;say them out loud, over and over--the text itself will tell you a lot --the speech has to be taken apart and put back together, the stumbling blocks always reside in those pieces (as do the answers). Figure out what's giving you the most trouble and give a shout. I think I can help.
all the Best
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Berowne's speech 6 years 9 months ago #1512

To help you with the speech, I recommend Mastering Shakespeare An Acting Class in Seven Scenes by Scott Kaiser. Kaiser is Head of Voice and Text at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I've used the book and found it to be the best book in the field. You'll find the book at
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Berowne's speech 6 years 9 months ago #1513

An excellent suggestion... Here is the short & sweet review of it in our reviews section:
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