Hamlet Dramaturgy

Informing Bethany Lutheran College's Spring 2013 Production. Shows at: April 19, 20, 26, 27 at 7:30pm and April 21 at 2pm

Performing Healthy Shakespeare

I know every show we talk about how staying healthy during the run of the production is important, but with a show as long and strenuous as “Hamlet” this warning should not only be heeded, performers should be actively working at it. In order to perform your very best a few aspects of your body should be conditioned throughout the rehearsal process.

1) Lungs: 

If you are performing long monologues or soliloquies your lungs need to be in top shape. Some of this is understanding how your lungs work. Exercises to improve your lungs can be as simple as the verbal warm-ups we do  before rehearsals, or as complex as relaxation yoga.

One easy way to gain more awareness about your breathing and where your breath is coming from is to start by laying on your back on the floor. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Most of the time when we breath deeply the breath we takes moves the hand on our chest, but your breath when performing should move the hand on your stomach. If you spend a few minutes working on your breathing you should be able to breath deeply altering which hand raises as you breathe.

2) Core: 

The muscles in your abdomen and lower back strengthen and the rest of your body and are the source of all movement. Maintaining a strong core is key in injury prevention. If your core is conditioned, you will inevitably have better breath support and be able to project your voice more comfortably. I realize that many of us joined theatre to avoid sports, but keeping a strong core helps your performance and life in the long run.

You can keep those core muscles strong by doing ab workouts (crunches, kick downs, planks, etc.) I’ve read studies about how even being more aware of your abdomen during the day can help tighten your core and intensify core exercises. Don’t get me wrong, thinking hard about working out will never replace actually working out, but it can increase the benefits.



Exercise is a known cause of not looking like this. 


3) Endurance: 

“Hamlet” is a long play and in order to perform and rehearse this production repeatedly you must have the endurance to perform it well. I know what you’re thinking and no, I’m not saying you have to take up long distance running or anything like that. In fact, having more breath control and a stronger core will help with this step quite a bit. But it is also important to do some cardio (it could even be walking or biking) and eat well to keep your heart happy. Which brings us to…

4) Eating Well:

Eating well is incredibly important to how your body functions. I know sometimes pizza looks like the only edible thing in the cafeteria, but I encourage you to get creative. Giving your body the right kind of fuel will help to increase your immune system so you don’t get sick during tech week and ensure that you have plenty of energy to perform at your best. And, as always DRINK LOTS OF WATER!

So there, that’s my two cents on performing healthily. I have a few books and can give you more ideas for exercises as the need arises. You know how to reach me.

Lydia, Dramaturg


3 comments on “Performing Healthy Shakespeare

  1. Osric
    February 22, 2013


  2. Aaron Wendroff
    February 22, 2013

    When I did the breathing awareness exercise I discovered how dirty my floor is! And cold.

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This entry was posted on February 20, 2013 by in Notes from the Dramaturg, Performance and tagged , , , .

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