Shakespeare's Tribe

Performing Shakespeare, Shakespeare in Performance

Scansion for Beginners

August 22, 2012 § 4 Comments

There is a very funny video, “Stuff People at a Shakespeare Festival Say” going around, created by Great River Shakespeare Festival. Tabard jokes figure prominently in the beginning, but at around three minutes the scansion jokes pour forth. Of course I laughed, but it got me thinking again about how unfortunate it is that there are so few resources available to those really wanting to learn about scanning poetic meter and applying it on stage.

After many years of frustration at this situation while teaching classes on acting Shakespeare, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create a guide for my students – The Down and Dirty Guide to Scanning Verse. My friend, Edward Isser found room for it on a server at The College of the Holy Cross as part of a teacher’s guide for a larger project, for which I am very grateful. These days it gets a lot of hits because the Internet Public Library ( provided a link from its Shakespeare resources.

Because the basic rules are simple and easy to master, I thought I’d repost a link here also, to encourage the curious to give it a go. Happy scanning!

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