The RWCMD Shakespeare prize encourages the students to engage and work with language in a way that is natural, personal and truthful. The Royal Welsh College’s Acting training aims to graduate actors into the profession that are robust, ethically-minded artists with strong individual voices, comfortable working within the classical repertoire as much as on new work, and ready to create their own. These different elements support each other, challenging the actor, and enriching the understanding of the craft.
‘If you can speak Shakespeare, you can tackle any text,’ explains Director of Drama Performance Jonathan Munby, who directed Sir Ian in King Lear at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 2017 and again at The Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End in 2018.
Speaking Shakespeare’s verse is certainly challenging, but it makes you a better actor, more observant, dextrous, and ultimately more robust. It also teaches us the fundamental value of language.
At a time when opportunities for young people to engage with Shakespeare in performance are becoming more scarce, it’s vital that drama schools continue to teach Shakespeare, alongside a range of diverse writers, to keep verse speaking alive.
Beyond the extraordinary language however, it is Shakespeare’s understanding of the human condition that means his plays endure so well. Shakespeare deals in universal truths, as bitingly current today as they were 400 years ago.'
The selection process is over two rounds; the first in College, where all the students were asked to perform a Shakespeare speech and a sonnet, auditioning in front of Sir Ian, who then gave a masterclass to each of the five finalists as part of their prize. The final will be held at a professional theatre in front of invited guests with the winner announced at the event.