“Passion, I see, is catching”

CassiusThis was the phrase that was used to introduce the “Acting Shakespeare Retreat” that we had this past week. This retreat provided a time for actors and lovers of Shakespeare to spend a concentrated time immersing themselves in Shakespeare’s work. Some of us in Elements were able to come to some of the classes and discussions and take part even though we weren’t on the retreat. As part of this, we all met with John Douglas Thompson for a master class. He started by telling us his story of how he became an actor. Needless to say I found this inspirational! His story began with a man in his twenties, as a corporate computer salesman, and led to his to becoming an actor. He came to acting a little bit later in his life, but it was his passion for the art that made him what he is. We also were able to observe while he helped some of the retreatants with their monologues, and his main comment was to just say the words as if they were your own. He said the challenge is to make Shakespeare’s beautiful language not seem foreign to your mouth; make the text a part of you. Shakespeare is providing us with a vehicle for our emotions to ride in. He doesn’t ask us to recite beautiful poetry; he creates human characters for us to inhabit. I think the phrase “Passion, I see, is catching” is the epitome of my feelings after this week.