Speak the Speech is a non-profit audio theatre company dedicated to providing freely available Shakespearean audio performances online, for the benefit of educators, students, theatre people, the disabled, those in rural areas or overseas, or to put it simply: Everyone!
"I never fully appreciated Shakespeare's language until I heard it spoken aloud by actors, not once but many times over. I was designing props for As You Like It. After attending numerous rehearsals, I found the words flowing through my brain at odd times of the day. I was struck by their eloquence, rhythms and poetry. Readings in high school never brought forth these qualities the way actors can. I wished more people could have that same experience of Shakespeare, the first time they met him. Well, now they can, thanks to the vision of one Peter Pressman.
When Peter asked me to direct the first production for Speak-the-Speech, I thought of The Tempest. What audio theater person could resist a piece that starts with a thunder storm? The more I thought about Tempest, with its references to the strange, sweet sounds of the isle, its haunting songs and magical images, the more I wanted to do it. "But there's all that dull exposition at the beginning!" some folks said. Yet, as I looked at Prospero's speech detailing the events of his life, I discovered a complex journey filled with textual twists and turns indicating a man faced with 12 years of pent up emotion. In an audio format, when all the audience has are the words, we hang on his speech just as Miranda does, as she learns for the first time the truth of her origins.
Working on this production has joyfully plunged me into the power and poetry of Shakespeare's words. Too often, a director can get sidetracked by staging and miss small but wonderful insights. In the auditory realm, you find yourself looking at Shakespeare's words the way Georgia O'Keefe looked at flowers - up close in all their complexity and depth. You notice repeating themes and relationships; you find the rhythms pointing your way, you hear an emotion underscored by a change in meter, you stumble upon contrasting images that emphasize key themes. Suffice it to say that such intensive immersion has caused me to fall in love with Shakespeare's language all over again. I humbly hope that it will do the same for you."
-Cynthia J. McGean, Director