- How I would cast four actors: Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helene
I would cast Lysander as an affectionate young man who is truly in love and who is ready to do everything to win the heart of the girl he loves. Despite the fact that he knew that Hermia’s father preferred Demetrius to him, he did not lose hope to marry Hermia. He even gets into an argument with Theseus and tells Demetrius to get Egeus’ heart and let him have Hermia’s one. In the play, Lysander also professes his love for Hermia in front of the Duke without being afraid of what Hermia’s father might feel. He pledged his heart and soul to her. This is further emphasized when Puck mistakenly puts a magical love potion on his eyelids and falls for Helena. He professes his love for Helena, but Helena thinks that he is mocking her. She seems oblivious of the implication of what is happening. Lysander is a passionate and affectionate lover. This would require the actor to be extremely passionate and able to express his feelings perfectly.
In the play, Lysander is portrayed as a romantic man who falls in love and is not going to give up on the lady he loves. The actor, therefore, should be able to express his love feelings to the lady that he is in love with. I would ensure that his voice, facial expression, and body language coordinate well to show these feelings and to create a romantic atmosphere in the theatre.
The actor should also be able to express vigor and aggressiveness. This is because Lysander was ready to compete with Demetrius for the lady he was in love with. The actor should express the ability to do what it takes to win the love battle. In the play, Lysander and Demetrius were fighting for Hermia’s hand in marriage. Lysander protested in front of the Duke when Edgeus said that he wanted Hermia to marry Demetrius. He tried to do all he could so that he could marry Hermia. However, that was not possible, so he decided to elope to the forest with his lover and he finally won the fight. He also talked ill to Demetrius and Egeus when he told Demetrius to have Egeus’ heart. Later in the forest, when Puck put a magical charm on his eyes by mistake, they started quarreling over Helena. Lysander was eager to fight for Helena’s love. He swore to kill him the day they would meet. This shows that Lysander was particularly aggressive to fight for what he wants. They are so angry at each other that they agree to organize a fight to prove who loves Helena more.
I would also cast Lysander as a person who is able to show courage in front of the Duke, Hermia’s father, and Demetrius. Despite the fact that Egeus preferred Demetrius to him, he tells Demetrius in front of the Duke that he will still have Hermia no matter what they do. Lysander also expresses his anger to Demetrius and tells him to take Egeus’ heart and leave Hermia’s heart to him. Lysander shows courage while expressing his feelings for Helena and even decides to get into a fight with Demetrius so that he can prove he loves her. Lysander also takes courage and confesses his love to Hermia and wants to elope with her. The ability to express courage would be core when casting this character (Eldredge 118).
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Lysander would also be cast as a persuasive young man who is able to convince his love to elope with him to the forest despite the fact that the woodland was a risky place. In the play, he persuaded Hermia to elope with him after the Duke had made her choose either to marry Demetrius or stay in the nunnery for the rest of her life. Lysander is portrayed in the play as a lover who is able to persuade his beloved to do what he wants.
When casting Lysander, I would also consider the ability to express optimism. Lysander was decidedly optimistic about what would happen to his love life. He does not fear the consequences of what would happen to Hermia if she disobeyed her father. He is positive that all will be well even in the woodland which is a dangerous place.
In some cases, I would cast Lysander as mean. After Puck had put the magical potion on his eyelids by mistake, he changed dramatically and became mean to Hermia. He referred to her as a dwarf. This was definitely abusive and mean to Hermia.
Demetrius just like Lysander would be cast as an affectionate and passionate man to his lover. In the first scene, he expresses his love for Hermia in front of the Duke and her father who preferred him as a suitor. Later when Puck puts the magical charm on his eyelids, he confesses his love for Helena.
He confesses his love for her by saying that Helena is the pleasure of his eyes and the virtue of his heart. Demetrius also goes further and tells Egeus that he is no longer in love with his daughter. This shows that he decided to give all his love and affection to Helena.
I would also cast Demetrius as a man who is ready to be aggressive to get the woman he wants and loves. He went against all odds to fight for his love Hermia. At the beginning of the play, he knew that Hermia loved Lysander, but he was not going to lose the battle. Despite the fact that Demetrius knew that Lysander was in love with Hermia, he fought for her love. He swore that he would never let Lysander have Hermia. When he learnt that Hermia had eloped with Lysander, he did not give up and he followed them into the forest. By following them, he was trying to show that he was ready to do anything to win Hermia. Later, when he was under the magical charm, he quarreled with Lysander over Helena’s love. This went on to the point that they wanted to have a fight to prove their love for Helena. At that point, he seemed like a coward because he was running away from Lysander when they wanted to fight for her, but he still made sure that Helena knew about his feelings for her.
I would also cast Demetrius as a cruel and hard-hearted man. In the play, Demetrius treats Helena with cruelty in the first scene. Demetrius is cruel to Helena who is hopelessly in love with him. After Helena told him about Hermia’s eloping with Lysander, he decided to go to the forest and find them. When Helena went after him, he tried to persuade Helena to stop following him. He told Helena that he did not love her and would never love her, so she should stop pursuing him. Helena went on to tell him how hard-hearted he was. When he threatened to leave Helena in the forest, she told him that even a wild beast did not have a heart like his. This may meant that a wild beast had a better heart than he did. This reveals the fact that he was inhumane and cruel to her. Demetrius also threatened to do mischief to her if she continued to follow him. Demetrius could not listen to kind and loving words of Helena no matter how sweet they were. Helena shared with her friend Hermia how she had tried to use sweet words to make Demetrius listen to her, but he could not. This shows that Demetrius was frightfully cold-hearted and not easy to get emotional. The way he behaved and treated Helena made Oberon, the fairy king, ordered Puck to put a drop of the magical potion on Demetrius’ eyelids.
Later, in Scene two, when he was asked by Hermia where Lysander had gone, he told her that he would rather give Lysander’s dead body to his hounds than give him to her. These were cruel words to tell to a person looking for a loved one.
I would cast Helena as a determined lady who is ready to give up everything she has to be with the man she loves. Though hopeless about her love life, when Hermia told Helena that she was eloping with Lysander, she got motivated and comforted and she went on to tell Demetrius about Hermia’s escape. She thought that Demetrius would change his mind and love her, since Hermia was gone. This did not happen, though. When Demetrius discovered that he had to follow the two love birds to the forest, she also followed him (Eldredge 150). Her determination is further evidenced by the fact that even after Demetrius threatened to leave her in the forest where there were wild animals, she did not stop following him. She continued to pursue him with loving words, but he did not want to listen to her. He continued to utter more threats telling her that if she continued following him, he could do mischief to her. It was because of her true feelings for him that she did not give up and followed Demetrius. Although it was a foolish thing to do, she ended up with what she had wanted all the time.
Moreover, I would cast Helena as a lady who is jealous of her friend Hermia. She was more jealous because Demetrius loved Hermia but not her. Helena felt that the men loved her because she was shorter. Later in the play when both men were given the magical charm in the forest, she could not believe that they loved her; she thought that the men were mocking her. Helena obviously had low self-esteem. I would cast her as a person who feels inferior to others, although she finally decided to follow Demetrius and fight for the love that she felt towards him. She is self-conscious and careful about what is going on in her life.
I would also cast Helena as a lovesick girl who after being mistreated by the man she desperately loved, she gained her confidence. When Lysander and Demetrius started professing their love for her, she did not give in and she took it as a mockery. I would cast Helena as a character who is able to transform as the play develops. Helena was able to change from a desperate, self-conscious, and sensitive girl to a confident and beautiful woman at the end of the play (Barton 150).
Helena would also be cast as a courageous young lady who is outspoken. She courageously tells Demetrius how she feels about him, though it was not common in those days for a woman to pursue a man. She knows that Demetrius loves Hermia, but she fearlessly tells him how she feels about him. Helena showed her bravery when she decided to follow Demetrius into the forest. She did not fear his cruel words and even when he threatened to run and leave her in the forest at the mercy of wild beasts, she continued following him without fear. Helena did not even fear the mischief that Demetrius threatened to do her if she continued following him. The character should be able to show courage and determination of Helena (Eldredge 58).
I would also cast Helena as an obsessive woman who desperately wants a man who seems to have no feelings for her. This makes her follow Demetrius despite being mistreated by him. This would help emphasize the deceitfulness and fickleness of love. This would also reveal the fact that love is blind. Though Helena knew she was not making any progress in her mission to pursue Demetrius, she went on with the chase.
Helena is also humorous when she gets into an argument with Demetrius in the forest. When Demetrius was talking rudely to her, she was still professing her love for him. Helena would also be cast as a loving and affectionate woman, and she does everything she could to get Demetrius (Barton 270).
I would cast Hermia as a defiant lady who seldom follows instructions given by her father. In the play, Hermia disobeyed her father’s instructions to marry the suitor that her father preferred. She did not even get scared of the consequences of failing to obey her father’s command. Despite the fact that the consequences were either the death or spending her whole life as a nun, she decided to elope with her lover Lysander into the forest.
Hermia would also be cast as a sympathetic woman. When Hermia saw how lonely her friend Helena was, she was sympathetic and consoled her by telling her that she was eloping, and Demetrius would be left for her. She told Helena that she could be with Demetrius, as he would not see her again. That was meant to console Helena, since Hermia knew that Helena was deeply in love with Demetrius (Gill 145).
I would cast Hermia as a self-conscious lady. When Lysander abandoned her for Helena, she felt that it was because of her physical appearance, as she was shorter than Helena. She felt that her appearance had let her down. This would emphasize the fact that love is mostly based on the aspect of appearance rather than character.
- Specific qualities to look for in four young actors
When selecting the four actors for the play, I would pay attention to the following qualities in young actors:
- The actors should be highly imaginative and committed.
Imagination affects how one undertakes different actions. The actors need to be highly imaginative so that they can undertake the expected actions, therefore, bringing out the feelings as they are supposed to be. The audience, on the other hand, is supposed to feel as if the play they are watching was real. Actors’ imagination makes the play look real and easier for the audience to enjoy and appreciate. The four actors have to show the ability to imagine, especially when there is a scene that involves magical charms. This will make the play look real, and the audience will be able to understand what is happening.
- The actors must have talent and professionalism
In general, an actor has to have a talent and be ready to grow and develop. If a person is not able to speak loudly, memorize lines or they fear stage lights and microphone, they do not have necessary skills and should not be an actor. If a person has necessary training, they can make a brilliant actor, provided they have a talent. There is always a chance for a talent to grow as long as it is available. A great actor is able to work with different kinds of people and has extremely high professional standards in all situations. Such an actor is able to show tremendous respect. They respect the script, directors, writers, as well as other people involved in making a play a success (Eldredge 58).
When the four actors are talented and enthusiastic, it will be easy to produce the play, since the training required will be exceedingly minimal. Professionalism in acting will also help save time. This is because no time will be wasted trying to solve personal conflicts. In order to understand Shakespeare’s play, the actors will need talent and experience in acting. They, therefore, will be able to understand their roles in different scenes and bring out the required output.
- The actors must be confident and outstanding public speakers.
I would choose an actor who is confident and able to talk to the public without fear or embarrassment. Being confident will enable the actors to perform their roles effectively. The actors must remain convincing in their acting; they should be professional eager to do their best. This will prevent confusion and conflicts and will definitely save time (Barton 90).
When an actor walks on stage, their every step should be confident. There is no time to keep on reassuring an actor who is talented. Even though actors may seem as if they were confident while in fact they may not feel so, no one will ever know, since the audience will think it was meant to be the way it is. An actor should look effortless when acting. Tension while acting will lead to an actor’s poor performance. Tension affects an actor physically and vocally.
For someone who wants to become a successful actor, fear is not allowed at all; it can affect the way actors express themselves. A good public speaker makes a great actor, since public speaking builds on the confidence of the actor. Good public speakers present themselves in front of the audience in a more effective manner. An actor must also be loud while on stage. The physical shape of the theater is meant to allow sound to travel; the audience, clothes, and chairs in the theater absorb sound. Projection of an actor’s voice should become perfect through practice. Experience, therefore, is pivotal for the four actors. Proper pronunciation and a powerful voice are vital for an actor to be great on stage (Gill 200).
- The actors should be enthusiastic and passionate
An actor should be passionate about their character. They should be overwhelmed with passion and enthusiasm while acting so that the audience will believe them and the story they are telling. An actor’s energy and power are revealed the way they move, speak, and feel. Passion and enthusiasm also affect how actors express their feelings. This enables them to act with the required energy and passion. Undoubtedly, a passionate actor will leave the audience fully entertained.
The four actors should be passionate about acting Shakespeare’s play in order to ensure that they show their emotions and make the most of the role. This will also make it easy for the audience to understand the message the play conveys (Eldredge 58).
- The actors should have knowledge of psychology relevant to performing.
An actor cannot be good without the understanding of intuitive and conscious human behavior. This will help an actor to know what the audience wants and their expectations. An actor with profound knowledge of human psychology is able to understand more deeply what is hidden in the scripts. An actor will also be able to have more sophisticated ideas on the causes of peace, war, love, and hatred. This is the basis of all scripts.
When the four actors have knowledge of psychology, they will be able to better understand their roles and render the emotions that their characters are having. When an actor has knowledge of how love, hatred, peace, and war affect personality, it is easier for them to play their part (Gill 200).
Actors should be flexible about change, time, and criticism. They should be ready to avail themselves when required as agreed. This means that an actor has to be dedicated to playing. An actor should be able to accept changes that may occur during rehearsals and the actual performance. This will help to make the most of the play and give the best performance.
Criticism in acting is an important part of growth, and it should be taken seriously. Actor can never be perfect, therefore, they should be ready to deal with criticism from the director and other actors. Through criticism, an actor is able to improve and do their best. This will finally lead to an excellent performance on stage. The four actors should, therefore, be ready for constructive criticism in order to ensure excellent performance and also growth of their talents (Barton 50).
An actor should also be ready for any changes that may occur, and they should be ready to make up for any fault. During the actual performance, anything can happen that was not expected. An actor, therefore, should be ready for this and should be tactical enough to cover up for the fault. This will make it impossible for the audience to discover that there was something wrong, and they will assume it was part of the script.
- The actors should be cheerful and friendly
Actors should be passionate, confident, charming, and friendly. This will help to make their characters convincing and charming. An actor should have a personality that makes the audience laugh and easy to relate with. This will keep the audience interested in the play. The actors must also be nice to other people they are working with to enhance team work.
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