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ANGELO in Soliloquy: Two Styles of Delivery
Ellen Summers

The way in which Angelo is perceived by the audience is an important ingredient in the reception of the final scene of Measure for Measure. In particular, Angelo's soliloquies create a link between character and audience that rewards investigation.

As students of stage history know, the preferred style in which soliloquies are delivered onstage has fluctuated considerably. During some eras in the theater, actors adopted an inward style of address which represented a dialogue with an inner self. In conformance with this style, the actor avoided direct contact with members of the audience, never acknowledging their presence. In other periods, soliloquies have been given as if in direct address to individual spectators or to the audience as a whole, as to a present body of listeners.

Hamlet's soliloquies, for instance, have been variously presented in the twentieth century. Sir John Gielgud, for example, chose to deliver them in the "inward" style. Mary Z. Maher summarizes his understanding of how to play Hamlet's first soliloquy: "Since the actor spoke to himself (avoiding eye contact with individuals), . . . [t]he audience was eavesdropping on his agonies." (Modern Hamlets and Their Soliloquies, U of Iowa P, 1992, p. 6) Gielgud became perhaps the most famous Hamlet of his generation, playing the role many times during the thirties, forties, and fiffies, and becoming an icon of the inward manner of soliloquizing.

In the 1960s, however, another style of delivery came into fashion, partly as a result of a landmark production of Hamlet directed by Peter Hall for the Royal Shakespeare Company. In this production, David Warner played Hamlet's soliloquies in direct address, electrifying his audiences, many of whose members for the first time felt directly involved in the Prince's deliberations. Maher cites a number of reviews which crystallize this sense of revolution in Warner's change of style: "He speaks the great soliloquies direct to the audience, downstage, as if demanding immediate answers... Hamlet communes not with himself but with you." (Modern Hamlets, pp. 52-53)

Although I have not yet found evidence of the way in which Angelos of the past stage performances have delivered their soliloquies, I have reason to suspect that the "inward² style of delivery of soliloquies during, for instance, the 1930s through the 1950s in England held good for most productions of Shakespeare's plays in that period. Thus, I suspect that Gielgud played Angelo's soliloquies in Peter Brook's production of Measurefor Measure in 1950 in a manner similar to that of his Hamlet. What seems equally likely to me is that there has been no analogous shift in the presentation of Angelo from a self-isolated character who communes with himself into a character who directly addresses his audience, whether in the 1960s or at any time since. If actors in various productions of Measure for Measure have played the soliloquies in this manner, it would be a natural development; but if so, I have seen no mention of it, and it seems to have made little impact on recent criticism. Given the aloofness and superbia which mark most characterizations of Angelo, the absence of significant contact with a public may predispose the audience to judge him in a way unnecessarily abstracted from the immediacy of the play's action.

Hence my experiment in the form of a pedagogical exercise. My "recipe" below includes suggestions about the shape and orientation of stage and house that is, the spacial relation between reader and onlooking students.

It is important that the reader chosen to perform these speeches not deliver them as "set speeches" or arias, that is, not to declaim them to an audience in a manner which expects applause, lifting the moment out of its dramatic context. The idea instead is to integrate the speeches into the live action which now simply includes members of the audience as interlocutors who choose to remain silent. Thus, eye contact with individuals, pointing lines to particular members of the audience, playing pauses for effect, moving close to the audience when appropriate, and using gesture to implicate them in Angelo's deliberation all will help to deliver the speech directly to the audience.

I would suggest trying a speech (or speeches, if time permits) twice, according to the two styles, inward and outward. This contrast will be more pointed if the configuration of chairs is changed accordingly.

For the "inward" delivery, a proscenium style stage area should be cleared at one end of the classroom and set apart from the "house," whose seating is in rows all facing toward the stage, which flanks it on the side facing forward. Angelo then may use the upstage area when giving the speech, well away from the audience, and making no eye contact with it.

For the "outward" delivery, a thrust style stage area should be cleared in the middle of the classroom, flanked on three sides by chairs which face the stage in rows which form threequarters of nesting squares. Angelo may then roam this inset area, making eye contact with various members of the "audience," referring to them on particular fines, and so forth.

Angelo in Soliloquy: Two Styles of Delivery

1. Choose a reader to play Angelo, preferably someone from the class who has been briefed or rehearsed beforehand, and perhaps who has had experience in acting. This exercise does not depend upon acting skill, however, so much as upon the courage to make eye contact with the audience and so forth. Even an unlikely Angelo can discover the relevant dynamics in reading the speech to other students.

2. Set the stage area and house in proscenium style arrangement. Seat the audience (students).

3. Have the reader present one of the speeches according to the "inward" type of delivery, staying upstage.

4. Have students take notes on their observations.

5. Reset the stage area as a thruststyle arrangement. Reseat the audience.

6. Have the reader present the same speech, this time in direct address to the audience.

7. Have the students take notes on their observations.

8. Divide students into groups of three and have them compare notes and choose a group spokesperson.

9.Have spokespersons report on the group's findings.

10.Move to general class discussion, including the reader's observations of what happened to him or her during the two performances.

11. Issues generated in this contrast of styles may include the following: a. different understandings of Angelo's character b. revelations about individual lines or words c. characterization of the audience watching the action d. implications for Angelo's trial and marriage, and Isabella's plea for mercy in 5. 1, including a consideration of audience response.

Estimated time: 30 minutes for one speech twice delivered, note taking, and discussion.
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