Hear From the People Behind Our Shakespeare Examinations – Part 4

Hear From the People Behind Our Shakespeare Qualifications– Part 4

LAMDA’s new Shakespeare Qualifications is designed to help Learners develop an understanding of Shakespeare’s language and the skills to communicate Shakespearean text to an audience.

We interviewed the panel of experts who supported LAMDA Examinations in the development of the Qualifications to learn more about the benefits and challenges for Learners, and their own Shakespearean inspirations!

For our fourth interview, we sat down with Paul Bench, a LAMDA Examiner and Teacher.

What’s Exciting about these Qualifications?

“This is an opportunity to gain a specialised qualification in performing the work of one of the world’s greatest and most insightful playwrights. Many performers will already be familiar with acting various roles from our Acting syllabus. Now they have the challenge to go deeper in interpreting this remarkable author’s work whose influence has penetrated the core of classical repertoire for hundreds of years. Shakespeare’s characters are remarkable in their breadth of personality and psychological ambience.“

Benefits for Learners

“They will benefit on a personal level of achievement and will find this enormously rewarding in developing their all-round expertise. These qualifications will greatly enhance their educational and performing portfolio. The plays are open to so much imaginative interpretation. Learners will also gain a knowledge and understanding as they try to find themselves in his characters as they bring them to life. The sheer variety of personalities is extraordinary, from noble kings and queens, to humble working people, to crude bawdy lowlifes, to likeable and sometimes deeply wise buffoons and fools. Shakespeare was evidently a keen observer of human beings with all their shallowness, frailties and endearing and noble qualities.”

Benefits for Teachers

“The challenge for teachers is to inspire their students to illuminate the character.  If the dialogue is in blank verse and sometimes difficult to understand, don’t shy away from the challenge. Explore its meaning; listen to the flow of the phrasing. Help the students to search for the characters’ inner soul, the ambiguities, and the contradictions. Find the thrust of what of what they are feeling and their unconscious motivations.”

Favourite Shakespeare Play

“I don’t have a totally favourite play because I find so many of plays intriguing! I am, however, especially drawn to the final romances: The Winter’s Tale, for example, Cymbeline and The Tempest.  Prospero in The Tempest was based on the famous Dr Dee, the great astrologist and Elizabethan magician whom the Queen herself found. Elizabeth consulted with Dr Dee about the most auspicious day for her coronation. I love magic! “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” says Hamlet. In other words human knowledge is immensely limited. These plays are almost fairy tales layered with mature reflection on the human experience.”

Favourite Shakespearean Character

“I don’t have one, as I don’t have a very favourite play. If you push me, I might go for the Fool in King Lear! He speaks his mind, he takes risks but he is deep thinking and has empathy for his tragic master’s declining mind and condition.”

Anything else we should know?

“Yes. Revel in the language. Don’t be afraid of it. It is lustrous and memorable. Take time to explore its many dimensions and layers of meaning and speak it with freshness. Don’t treat Shakespeare as a god. He was a human being with faults and failings.”

If you would like to learn more about our Shakespeare Qualifications, including the qualifications syllabus, take a look at the LAMDA Examinations pages on our website.

Hear from more people behind our Shakespeare Examinations in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Published on 15 December 2017.