The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is the largest regional theater in the United States. As the Director of Company Development, Scott Kaiser is responsible for the hiring, growth and development of the Acting Company. It is a unique job title – only the Guthrie Theater has a similar position. His interview with the State of Shakespeare explores the OSF and his contributions to the world of Acting Shakespeare.
With 26 years at the OSF, Mr. Kaiser has worked on every play in Shakespeare’s canon. Working as a director, actor, voice and text coach and teacher provides him a diverse range of experience and a unique perspective, which he explores in three very different books.
Shakespeare’s Wordcraft deconstructs rhetorical language in a way that is both understandable and approachable. Throughout his career, Kaiser collected a treasure trove of quotes from Shakespeare in which various interesting rhetorical devices are employed. He reframes the bookish “rhetorical” terms into tools that are accessible and useful to the stage actor. Actors need not worry about their epizeuxis’, while using this valuable resource!
Kaiser’s insights into stage technique for actors are collected in Mastering Shakespeare: An Acting Class in Seven Scenes. He wrote the book in the most actor-friendly style imaginable: as a series of scripted scenes that follow the progress of a hypothetical acting class. Among the techniques that the actors encounter is the concept of Focal Points, a technique that helps actors create a sense of place within an empty stage.
Kaiser’s most recent publication is the Tao of Shakespeare. Mr. Kaiser mined Shakespeare’s text for passages that have what he describes as a “spiritual underpinning” and a “relationship to Taoism and the Tao Te Ching”. He compares Shakespeare’s ideas with resonant themes from Buddhist writings and then reflects in his own words on the underlying spiritual similarities. It is a brilliant book and one that only someone with Mr. Kaiser’s depth of knowledge could create.
But perhaps his greatest writing accomplishment is Love’s Labor’s Won. Mr. Kaiser hypothesizes that Shakespeare’s comedy Love’s Labor’s Lost had a lost sequel. After many years of preparing and learning, he set out to create it. The effort to create a book that “emulates Shakespeare’s style” was a supreme test of Kaiser’s knowledge of rhetoric, pentameter and imagery. The result is an intricately woven tale about the quartet of lovers that picks up four years after the conclusion of Love’s Labor’s Won.
Join the State of Shakespeare for an illuminating interview with Scott Kaiser.
The State of Shakespeare is an interview series hosted by Jim Elliott and Gerritt VanderMeer. To listen and find out more about the artists and texts, visit www.stateofshakespeare.com. The monthly podcast is also available for streaming (free) on iTunes.