Actress Maxine Peake explains that in preparation for playing Hamlet onstage at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, she created a character profile from a detailed reading of the play, showing the relationships and feelings of Prince Hamlet. This helped her to get inside the character’s head. She then goes on to provide tips about how to show the intentions of the character by saying lines in different ways, using an acting technique called ‘actioning’ which involves matching each line with a transitive verb to give a sense of dynamic action to her line delivery. Finally, she demonstrates how important movement and body language are to actors when creating characters.

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Students could create profiles for a Shakespearean character based on textual analysis, showing relationships and feelings. Students could try to find the correct way of moving for their Shakespeare character with reference to archetypes like King, Villain, Clown, Hero, Mother, Trickster. Students could take a line of dialogue for their character and research the ‘actioning’ method of acting, choosing a few appropriate transitive/ active verbs that could be used to deliver their line of dialogue in various ways. Students could then demonstrate this to the class and evaluate their different interpretations.