January 2018 Shakespeare & Puppet Workshops

Rude Grooms presents
a weekend of Shakespeare Workshops,
including sessions on cue-scripts, Ensemble, and Original Pronunciation,
an introduction to Puppetry,
& a donation-based afternoon on Sticks


“Learning playful stagecraft to bring more in to rehearsal every day”

at the Plaxall Gallery in NYC

led by Ben Crystal, Sean Garratt, Helen Foan, Dan Beaulieu, and Montgomery Sutton


Friday, January 26: Intensives in Original Pronunciation, Stagecraft, and Puppetry
Pay per session or $150 for the day

10:00am-1:00pm – Original Pronunciation 3-hour Intensive ($50)

What did Shakespeare’s accent – and that of his actors and audience – sound like? What can we learn from hearing and speaking his works in that accent? And with no recordings or transcriptions available to us, how do we know?

Come and explore the fascinating 400 year old sound of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, learn how to speak your favourite speech or sonnet in Original Pronunciation, and discover a world hidden beneath our modern, prescribed “Shakespeare Voice”.

This workshop will reveal works full of rhyme, rhythm, and a very subtle humour – and a not-so-subtle one too – as well as helping you find a grounded, earthy Shakespeare voice, that’s truly and uniquely yours.

2:00-5:00pm – Sharpening your Stagecraft ($50)

How would Shakespeare’s actors craft dynamic, clear performances without the aid of a director blocking the show? How do the structure of his plays and soliloquies allow you to harness the energy between the audience, your fellow players, your environment, and your selfe to effortlessly play with clarity, honesty, and ease in any environment?

In this Lab-style, explorative workshop, you will develop a unique and embodied sense of your own stage-craft – tapping into hints from the text, the dynamics of your ensemble, and your natural impulses to solve directors’ problems before they even know there’s a problem to be solved.

With cue-script in hand, actors can play not just to the words being said, but can immediately respond to the improvised stage movements of their fellow actors, continually creating beautiful stage pictures for a director to shape – or, as Shakespeare’s actors themselves, play together without need for a director at all.

6:00-10:00pm – Breathing Life & Character into Puppets ($75)

Come to this workshop and walk away with the confidence to take on those future auditions, that suddenly say; ‘Okay now puppet this…’

Lead by the internationally renowned duo, clown and puppeteer Sean Garratt, and puppet maker, designer and director Helen Foan, you will develop a vocabulary in the craft of puppetry.

Over the evening, be guided through exercises covering the basics to ‘puppet life’, how to approach different types of puppets, how to make random bits of trash come alive, and how to bring out the personality in a new found puppet.


Saturday, January 27: Speed-Dating with Shakespeare
$30 per session or $150 for the day

10:00-11:30am – Grounding & Tuning with Sticks
Developed from exercises taught by LeCoq and Complicite into key ensemble and Shakespeare rehearsal methods, start the day with a grounding, focussed sequence of exercises, designed to help the actor tune their own physical awareness, and switch on their sensitivity to both the room, and the rest of their fellow players in it.

12:00-1:30pm –  Kinesthetic Ensemble Training
Your kinesphere, the bubble of space around you that shrinks and grows depending on whether you’re on the Subway or on a hilltop. How much space you need around you shifts and changes throughout the day, and in rehearsal and performance, as part of a story-telling Ensemble. Switching on the 180 degrees of space behind us, that we pay little attention to, and rarely see, and take an early lunch to focus focusing on your backspace. Following the work of UK movement guru Jennifer Jackson, spend 90 minutes learning how to quickly tune into your selfe, turning on your spidey-sense, becoming able to improvise freely around your fellow players, intuiting each other’s next moves by heart.

2:00-3:00pm – Acting from the First Folio
Once regarded as the version for geeks, the First Folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays put together by two of his actors 400 years ago has become a respected first source, a must-have for practitioners, and a standard basis for comparison with a modern, edited text in more traditional rehearsal rooms. Filled with acting clues that are edited out of modern texts, learn what to look out for in the First Folio, and let Shakespeare’s actors show you the way through a speech or scene.

3:30-4:30pm – The Magicke of Cue Scripts
Shakespeare’s actors would rehearse a play in a matter of days, each using only a copy of their own lines, the lines when they would enter and exit, the three words directly “cueing” their words or actions — and that’s it. Using modern versions of these Elizabethan rehearsal tools, how much can they teach us about character, stage-craft, and blocking – and how quickly can they let us work?  Moving away from the modern, 20th century tradition of repetition, repetition, repetition, begin to learn the especial quality of active listening that comes from not knowing what’s going to be said next, and craft a very different way of acting Shakespeare.

5:00-6:00pm – Spehk thuh spehch, oi preh yer (Intro to Original Pronunciation)
Come and learn Original Pronunciation with Ben Crystal, speaking the accent out loud in a group before trying it on your own, if you like. Working to speak a Sonnet and a speech in the accent Shakespeare and his company spoke 400 years ago, rhymes begin to rhyme again, puns are revealed – and you’ll find a grounded, earthy sound rising out of you, a far cry from the traditional “Shakespeare voice.”

6:30-8:00pm – The Puppet Speaks Shakespeare
A crash course in how to survive a puppetry audition, or worse – be thrust a puppet in rehearsal in the same moment you’re asked if you have any puppetry experience. Internationally renowned actors and puppet masters Helen Foan and Sean Garratt cover the basics to ‘puppet life’, then dive deep into an exploration of giving a puppet voice – through Shakespeare’s words.


Sunday, January 28 (1pm-5pm): Advanced Stick Work: A Day of Personal and Ensemble Exploration | UPDATE: NOW DONATION-BASED!

Thanks to our wonderful hosts at the Plaxall Gallery, this session on Sunday is now a donation-based afternoon! Advanced registration is required, though, so please add it to your cart with any other items and check out as normal, either making a donation now or tossing in whatever you like on the day — whether that’s $100 or a quarter!

Learning approaches to physical theatre with Compicite 20 years ago, Ben Crystal started to develop exercises of his own to help pull Shakespeare rehearsals away from the page, and back onto the stage.

As a solo, duo, and group exercise, he explored these exercises with Passion in Practice, and with actors and students around the world.

The sticks allow for simple, vital, passionate, physical exploration: giving a chance to focus on developing one’s own craft as an actor; the opportunity to play with your fellow cast in character; improvising away from scenes or memorised text to establish deep and considered relationships, whether you carry a spear or wear a crown.

With parallels to Viewpoints work and often used as an Ensemble warm-up, this is a deeper dive into the work introduced in our Grounding & Tuning with Sticks and Kinesthetic Ensemble Training classes, each 90-minutes for $30 as part of our Saturday All-Day Speed-Dating with Shakespeare sessions (or $150 for all six sessions: which is like getting one for free!)

PLEASE NOTE: This day is not an introduction to stick work: it is an expansion and deeper exploration, so a familiarity & confidence in the fundamentals of the training is highly recommended. If you don’t have extensive experience with our ensemble stick training or the Lecoq and Complicité training that inspired it, we highly recommend that you come in for at least the $30, 90-minute “speed-dating” sessions on Saturday called “Grounding & Tuning with Sticks” and “Kinesthetic Ensemble Training which will introduce newcomers to the work and give a focused deepening in the fundamentals to those with limited prior experience.