Dropping In: An Actor’s Truth as Poetry

29 Dec


Dropping-in is a technique Tina and Kristin Linklater developed together in the early 1970s to create a spontaneous, emotional connection to words for Shakespearean actors. In fact, “dropping in” is integral to actor training at Shakespeare & Co. (the company the Linklater’s founded) a way to start living the word and using it to create the experience of the thing the word represents.

The process of dropping-in involves a teacher and student, the former asking questions and the latter repeating the word in the text (in bold below). The process gives each operative word depth and dimension and allows it to come into the body. Apparently, it can also release strong emotions. Once an emotional connection is made with individual words, then phrases or sentences can be strung together and “dropped-in.” Here’s an example from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with the sentence:

“May All To Athens Back Again Repair”


Do you like the month of May? May.

Do you hate the month of May? May.

Do you say “May I?” May.

Say “all the days of May?” (three times fast)

“All the days of May. All the days of May. All the days of May.”

All to Athens

Is Athens a mythical place? Athens.

Is Theseus the ruler of Athens? Athens.

Is Athens in Greece? Athens.

Is Athens a state of mind? Athens.

Back Again Repair

Have you ever repaired an injury? Repair.

Have you ever repaired another repair? Repair.

Will the lovers’ be able to repair their relationship? Repair.

Shall we repair together? Repair.

Will we be able to repair the repair? Repair.

Personally, I have no idea if this actor process works. All I know is that Shakespeare is the most demanding when it comes to recitation and an actor’s breathing is essential to getting through a scene. The first time I witnessed dropping-in, I was struck by what appeared an incidental form of spoken word. It was from my favorite movie of 2017. You can see the scene I’m talking about here. Special kudos to Ryan Gosling, who borrowed the lines spoken from Nabokov’s novel and epic poem, Pale Fire.



Sometime, I’ll have to try this technique with my writing. Maybe when I write my first play. For now, I like these dropping in exercises for their poetic appeal. With two talented actors, I can imagine being riveted as they help each other “drop-in” words.

Joi_Pale Fire

Pale Fire is also a fascinating book if you’ve never read it!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: