I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never acted, or if it was, not above once.

This is an interesting distinction – the difference between speaking a speech and acting it. It seems to be the difference between recitation and performance. In today’s world, it might be the difference between a reading and a show. In this case, however, the Player keeps the text in his memory instead of the page.

I am impressed with this mostly due to the sheer amount of text the First Player has kept in his mind after only one (possible) performance. I still recall bits of speeches I learned years ago but generally those were reinforced with dozens of performances. The ones I learned and performed once vanish quickly.

For example, I learned Hamlet’s soliloquy, the one that will come at the end of this scene in response to the speech the Player speaks for him. I spent a great deal of time learning it and practicing it and it had exactly one performance. I thought I’d never forget it. But a handful of years later I can only call to mind the same lines I knew before I learned it. Gertrude’s speech about Ophelia, however, I could probably pull off, because I performed it a hundred times.

I acted that Hamlet soliloquy, too. . .I don’t think it could qualify as a speech simply spoken. I know I ended up on my knees. That is definitely past the bounds of speaking a speech and into the acting territory.


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