Shakespeare with Endy McKay – September 29th 2019

The wonderful actor/tutor Endy McKay brings such energy and joy to our weekend acting class! A class with a lot of nerves as we approach the weighty topic of Shakespeare. And we’re only in Week 2!

‘Shakespeare’ is an ominous topic for a lot of young actors. Similarly, there is a typical image or idea that many of the public may hold. A statuesque figure declaiming dry verse. That strikes fear (or boredom!) into the heart of many an actor.  That’s not what we’re doing here!

‘Shakespeare’ is nitty gritty, down and dirty, grubby, elevating, inspiring and action filled. His works involve murder, betrayal, love lust, huge emotions – there is so much to it! He wrote for real people in real situations. This is why he’s still so popular and relevant. As for acting Shakespeare, Hamlet gave advice to his players (actors). ‘Hold the mirror up to nature’ i.e. be real, be natural, not forced or effected.

After drama school, Endy worked from a young age for RSC and still teaches acting classes there.

She has very warm, giving approach to actors, relaxing us all. Similarly, she is super positive and full of fresh ideas about Shakespeare!

This is a great group who sprang up immediately when Endy asked for volunteers!

First of all, we had warm up games, working on presence, listening, awareness of other actors.

This got us all in the mood to be brave and try new things.

We then worked with Lady Macbeth and Macbeth scene (Act 1 Sc7).

We followed with Juliet’s speech from Romeo & Juliet (Act 3 Sc2), starting ‘Gallop apace you fiery footed steeds’

As we do in every acting class, tutor Endy packed in a lot in just three hours!

Some great thoughts from today’s acting class!

  • “It’s okay to look like an idiot! Hopefully we all will, at least once, at some point in today’s acting class!”
  • This an acting class, not a polished, final performance. Never apologise, only try, jump in, take part!
  • Sometime we find ourselves using an ‘actory’ voice, ‘putting it on’, not using our own, real voice. That’s fine if it’s your choice for the character but if not then it’s a barrier to us as actors!
  • It doesn’t even matter if you play opposite sex to yourself.
  • Intention – often more than one option. Choose the intention that gives the most action on stage!
  • How to connect with the language and get the words off the page. Not an intellectual approach!
  • Working with his texts will make you a better actor. This is not something to be afraid of. There are thousands of different interpretations of each character.
  • We need to understand the script: location, where are we setting this the scene (home, pub, park, small flat, etc). Who else is with them? What time of day is it? etc
  • How important is ‘breath’ to the actor? Extremely! A flautist plays a flute, knows HOW to do it and can READ the music. But they still hav to engage with the instrument and put BREATH through it to make the sound. In the same way, an actor needs to physicalise the language and play their body /instrument/body with their BREATH!
  • Endy had Eleise Bailey and Katharine Scorer do ten burpees before throwing themselves into the scene and the scene came alive – they were brilliant!

We want to thank Endy for another inspiring and fun acting class, packed with tips and practical advice. Actors, go forth and prosper!

Neil Berrett says:

“From the perspective of someone who has a lot of life experience but little acting or performance experience the lessons so far have been a revelation. First of all, the inclusivity, diversity and peer support of the group is amazing!

The lessons themselves have been great. The way in which you arrive at some competence through a layer effect. Each little exercise builds upon the last and lays the cement for the next! Before you know it, you have a wall. Endy’s contagious enthusiasm was just wonderful and made Shakespeare relevant, modern and achievable.”

Lauryna Mikelkeviciute says:

“Wanted to say thank you for bringing tutor Endy to the class! She gave me an absolutely different understanding of Shakespeare. It has a much deeper meaning for me now and not just the mix of difficult words. Shakespeare is movements, feelings, emotions and much more! She made the class really fun but also absolutely professional.”

Chloe Scalzo says:

“Fantastic Shakespeare workshop with Endy today! I came away from the workshop with brand new techniques and approaches on how to tackle the text within Shakespeare. I left the acting class with bags of confidence. I’m looking forward to the next time I get the opportunity to work on Shakespeare in the future. A fresh and enjoyable 3 hours full of ways to understand the text with a modern-day approach.”

David Varkonyi says:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed Endy McKay’s class on Shakespeare today, she was lively, informative and very funny!

As I have mainly read most Shakespeare plays in my native language, in Hungarian translation back in my youth I was unsure how to approach the text first, but being a great teacher she gave fantastic, fun exercises which made me relaxed and being able to get into it and she gave great pointers how to approach it!”


Leroy Rogers says:

“I’ve always struggled with Shakespeare in the past and the language would always prove to be a barrier. 

Endy’s methods of breaking down the language and the way she encouraged us to explore the dynamics between characters really helped me to understand what I previously couldn’t grasp about performing Shakespeare. This lesson was a real lightbulb moment for me.” 


Ashleigh Swain says:

“Although I have performed Shakespeare in the past, I have always dreaded it as I never seem to be able to get out of my own head and find the language a barrier- so I was especially looking forward to this class as I want to be able to perform Shakespeare well.  Endy taught us how to break down a speech and really get behind the meaning, emotion and the intention of a scene and its characters and how to call on our own experience to give a truthful portrayal of emotion.  This workshop was especially helpful in getting us to use our ‘normal’ voices when reading the text rather than the ingrained, stuffy stage voice I always seem to go to when performing Shakespeare.  It was challenging at times but by the end I actually felt like I wanted to get up and perform a piece which was a complete turnaround for me so I was over the moon.”