From the opening weeks of your introduction to Shakespeare and the Renaissance what events or ideas have excited or surprised your imagination most? Write a short paragraph that gives voice to your experience of this period.
Language in the body gestures of Shakespeare’s Actors
The most remarkable concept that captured my interest already from the beginning ( and that at the same time made me struggle a bit with the readings) is Shakespeare’s use of language. The thing that fascinated me was the use of unknown words, synonyms and most of the time even new words. This made me curious and pushed me to read something more about it.
Shakespeare in fact wasn’t just a prolific writer but he also introduced thousands of words and phrases into the English language. In all of his works Shakespeare uses 17,677 words. Of those words, Shakespeare ‘invented’ an incredible 1,700 of them, such as “accommodation, aerial, amazement, apostrophe, assassination, auspicious, baseless, bloody, bump” etc…
But how are words represented on the stage ?
The theatrical representation seemed to highlight the relationship between language and action, between what is formulated orally on the one hand, and what is seen on the other. Language and spoken words in this case become gestures, therefore a physical animation of a speaker on stage.
There are thee concepts to distinguish in order to understand the body language of Shakespeare’s actors:
- Words : on the stage might refer to facial expression as much as to movement of the hands, limbs, shoulders
- Action: is a term referring particularly to mimetic activity for example the actor’s portrayal of a character’s movement and physical expression; outside the frame
- Gesture: are the actions of fictional characters., within the frame
What results from this is an efficient non verbal communication that includes all those manners of nonverbal effects that lead the audience easily to imagination.
“Fie, fie upon her!
There’s language in her eyes, her cheek, her lip.
Nay her foot speaks; her wanton spirits look out at every joint and every motive in her body.”
~ William Shakespeare: Troilus and Cressida