Finding ways of bringing a Soliloquy to life can be hard for students. That lengthy passage of dialogue can seem impenetrable, complicated and daunting. The following series of activities can help you and your students brings life to a Soliloquy and feel confident about performing it.
Working alone, in pairs or as a group read through the text. Highlight key words or phrases that stand out to be either interesting to you or important to what the character is speaking about. Then for each word, create a physical gesture to symbolise the meaning of the word. Ask students to repeat just the words (not the whole soliloquy) and physical movements in a sequence which is repeated two or three times.
By creating a physical connection between ourselves and the words, we begin to make a strong, visceral and instinctive relationship with the language we are speaking. The words are no longer detached from us as actors, but they are connected to us through both a physical and cerebral connection.
Ask the students to start reading the whole of the soliloquy, making sure that they retain the physical gestures from the previous exercise. But whenever they reach a point of punctuation stop and pause. I suggest that the length of the pause varies according to punctuation, so a comma is a short pause whereas a full stop is a longer pause. As the students rehearse encourage them to experiment with the pace of voice between the pauses. Continue to read through the soliloquy pausing at punctuation like this. Then discuss with the students the effect these pauses had on the way in which the audience might receive the soliloquy.
Ask the students to break the soliloquy into sections based on their responses, creating moments of thoughtfulness or excitement.
Finally, returning to the punctuation, add to the pause a physical movement to each pause which is led by the sections title (e.g. thoughtful or excited). The movement could be stepping forward, turning in a different direction or twisting around.
The final activity is done with a partner. Start by breaking the text into chunks based on where full stop, escalation mark and question mark finish a sentence.
Between each of these sections get a partner to form a question to ask.
Then read through the soliloquy with the questions being asked at every section. But this time the person reading the soliloquy says the lines in a way that suggests they are responding to the question. Be sure to keep both pauses, pace and gestures from the previous two exercises.
Once this has been rehearsed several times, then remove the questions so that it returns to being a full soliloquy.
Is this a dagger I see before me, The handle toward my hand?
Can you touch it?
Come, let me clutch thee – I have thee not and yet I see thee still!
Are you sure you can’t touch it?
Are thou not, fatal vision, sensible To feeling as to sight?
Is is real?
Or art thou but A dagger of the mind, a false creation, Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?