It’s called Acting, Dear Boy… With Balls!

How dare I ever cover the subject of Shakespeare again without mentioning Kenneth Branagh. Here he played Henry V.

When I left school back in 1995, all I wanted to do was to become an actor. To be honest, I probably was not as strong a performer as Stanislavsky would have wanted me to be. A part of me always wanted to try out for Shakespeare’s Henry V. I already knew how to play the part when I stepped into his shoes for a solo acting exam back in 1997. I would however want to do a different type of performance if the chance ever came up, and without throwing tennis balls into the audience!

The scene that I covered was a very strong and memorable moment in Henry V when he received the gift/taunt of tennis balls from the son of the King of France. In a speech, King Henry uses the word “mock” several times, and I thought of the sound that a tennis ball would make when it hit the racket in the right place. I thought it would be great for the audience to experience King Henry’s passion, so whenever I said “mock” I bounced a ball off the stage into the would be audience (luck would have it, only several examiners behind a table with contorted looks on their face experienced my innovative attempt at “3D Shakespeare!”

I passed the exam, but I was given a firm talking to by the examiners about health and safety. “If you’re going to throw tennis balls, throw them stage left, or stage right into the wings, not at the audience, dear boy!”

I added the dear boy… but perhaps, this was a good thing. I eventually found writing, and nobody will ever be in any danger from that, right?

That one acting exam was one of the last things I performed on stage. That was 18 years ago and a part of me (the mature part that knows a little more about subtlety and avoiding lawsuits) would like to give it a go again.

For those who lap the words of the Bard up like water on a hot summer’s day, I bring to you the infamous monologue, and remember what to do when you read the word “mock”…

Stick it to the Dauphin of France… Balls to gun stones.

  • William Shakespeare (Henry V) Act 1, Scene 2.

Author, writer Editor, and Story Developer. Podcast, Radio, Film, Music, and Performance — workshop tutor and professional writing mentor.

Author, writer Editor, and Story Developer. Podcast, Radio, Film, Music, and Performance — workshop tutor and professional writing mentor.