On Playing Shakespeare with Brenda Joyner

Hermia, Perdita, Olivia, Desdemona, Ophelia, Hero, Lavinia. You’d be hard pressed to find another young actress who has tackled so many of Shakespeare’s female roles…all before age 30. And yet, actress Brenda Joyner is still learning what she loves about performing Shakespeare. Turn on the sound and listen as Brenda shares what she loves about performing in a Shakespeare play.

On Playing Shakespeare with Brenda Joyner Transcript

 “I’m blown away by how much Shakespeare I’ve done. I never in my life thought I’d do so much Shakespeare. I took some Shakespeare growing up and then I took…I didn’t even take a course in college…naw, maybe I took one course.

I feel like I’m still learning what I love about Shakespeare, so it’s still a work in progress for me.  I do remember when I was sixteen; I played Lady Macbeth, so obviously the finest Lady Macbeth that was ever done. But I remember working on those lines and there was this moment that clicked with me that was so powerful about Shakespeare, and I just remember being blown away by the power of those lines.

What Shakespeare can tell you in five lines…the history, what the person is experiencing right now, the imagery of that, the commitment of this person. I just thought it was beautiful and dark and I was just so caught off guard about the power of those lines and what he’s able to accomplish, and beautifully, even if you’re talking about the most disgusting thing, the most heart-wrenching thing, the most dire thing.  It’s beautiful and he does it so perfectly.”

On Playing Shakespeare with George Mount

Shakespeare has been a companion for George Mount for most of his adult life. Whether as an actor, a director, or a producer, George has spent a lot of time thinking about Shakespeare’s plays and how to best approach them. He’s had the fortune to play many of the roles he always wanted to play, and the gift of discovering himself in parts he never ever considered. I mean, what guy actually thinks he’ll get to play both Kate in “The Taming of the Shrew” and Prince Hamlet. Turn on the sound and find out what George has to say about performing Shakespeare.

 On Playing Shakespeare with George Mount

“I find with Shakespeare, more than any other playwright’s work, is the demand on the artist. The material itself is such a pinnacle of greatness that it demands of the artists, who are essentially collaborating with Shakespeare on the play, to be firing on all cylinders and be at the top of their game in order to even approach being able to be in that realm. It demands of the actor all of the resources that we have at our disposal to be working at the peak of prowess.

The mind needs to be incredibly active to unravel the thoughts and the complexities of the characters and the subtleties of the words and the meaning. The articulators need be working at the top of their game in order to get those words out. Physically, you’ve got to be as healthy as you can for the rigors of that thought breath communication, for the marathon of work of going from Act 1 Scene 1 to Act 5…it demands of an actor with the sword fighting, with the physical comedy, with the complex stage pictures. So everything that an actor has in his tool kit, in his resources, is used to its peak in doing a Shakespeare play and creating those characters.

Also, creatively, the imagination has to be at its height in order to create a unique character that can inhabit the world of Shakespeare. I think of it, sometimes, like a…I’m a fan of Bob Dylan’s work, and while I think that no one interprets Bob Dylan better than Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan is a frequently covered musician because his song writing is some of best lyrics there are. And for someone, I would imagine, that doing Shakespeare is, for an actor, what covering a Bob Dylan song is for a musician. You’ve got to be at your peak and at your best at all times to just even be in the same realm with that kind of genius and brilliance. And it will demand of you all of what you have and you’ll discover that you can always go further and you’ll get surprised at far you even went doing a Shakespeare play.”