Help me choose a passage from a Shakespeare play for a short film?
February 18, 2015 6:18 AM   Subscribe

I am working on a short (4-minute) film that is set at a performance of Shakespeare in the Park. As part of the film one of the characters (an actor) will be on stage, acting out a short portion from a play. I need to choose what passage the actor will be performing. Help?

The play could be any Shakespeare play-- comedy, tragedy, or history. The length doesn't matter too much but it should probably be at least 6 lines. The actor is alone onstage so it should make sense in that context. I would love if it incorporated themes of nature, or deception/disguise/acting. Ideally it wouldn't be one of the most famous passages ('to be or not to be', etc.). The actor is male but I'm not 100% opposed to a passage meant for a female character. The sound will end up being muffled/distorted/disguised in some way but I think it should still be as appropriate as possible.

I have been looking through and the Shakespeare quotes by theme but feel like I haven't hit upon the right passage yet. I feel like the closest thing I've found so far is the 'hold a mirror up to nature' portion from Hamlet but I feel like there's something out there that's better, that I just haven't found yet.

Any suggestions would be extremely helpful. Thanks in advance!
posted by matcha action to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
Does it have to be a male character? That's going to affect things.

With deception - I'm thinking Twelfth Night would be a place to look, but you may find a lot of womens' parts which is why I'm asking. Midsummer Night's Dream would be good for the nature aspect, and you may even find some things in Tempest.

I'll look.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:33 AM on February 18, 2015

Nature and deception has Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream written all over it.

Here's one option, but most of his speeches would work:

I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
And on her wither'd dewlap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
And 'tailor' cries, and falls into a cough;
And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
And waxen in their mirth and neeze and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.
But, room, fairy! here comes Oberon.
posted by firechicago at 6:34 AM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

For a male actor, Falstaff's monologue from Henry IV, part I.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 6:59 AM on February 18, 2015

Lear in the rain, perhaps?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:26 AM on February 18, 2015

Deception and acting? Check out Richard III, Act I, scene iii:
Now they believe it and withal whet me
To be revenged on Rivers, Dorset, Grey;
But then I sigh and, with a piece of scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil;
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends stolen out of Holy Writ,
And seem a saint when most I play the devil.
He's got a few of those, but that's the one that sprung to mind first.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:07 AM on February 18, 2015

For themes of nature AND scheming, consider some of Edmund's monologues from Act I Scene 2 of King Lear:

Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shines
Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?
Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
More composition and fierce quality
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,
Got 'tween asleep and wake? Well, then,
Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land:
Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund
As to the legitimate: fine word,--legitimate!
Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper:
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!


This is the excellent foppery of the world, that,
when we are sick in fortune,--often the surfeit
of our own behavior,--we make guilty of our
disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as
if we were villains by necessity; fools by
heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and
treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards,
liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of
planetary influence; and all that we are evil in,
by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion
of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish
disposition to the charge of a star! My
father compounded with my mother under the
dragon's tail; and my nativity was under Ursa
major; so that it follows, I am rough and
lecherous. Tut, I should have been that I am,
had the maidenliest star in the firmament
twinkled on my bastardizing.
posted by Owlcat at 9:06 PM on February 18, 2015

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