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Interactive video lesson plan for: Not budge an inch - Shakespeare Speaks

Activity overview:

Thomas Swann shows his stubborn side while rehearsing 'The Taming of The Shrew'.

For the transcript click 'SHOW MORE'.

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It's evening at the Duck and Whistle. William Shakespeare and his actor friend Thomas Swann are rehearsing the opening scene of Shakespeare's comedy The Taming of the Shrew.

I'll answer him by law. I won't budge an inch…

Just a minute Thomas: Christopher Sly is drunk, but we do need to understand the words!

You're criticising my acting, Will. Again.

Thomas, Thomas. You're a great actor. A wonderful actor. But Thomas, can the audience please actually hear the words I wrote for your character to say…?

The audience can see what's happening! I'm in the pub, I'm drunk, there's broken glass everywhere and -

Thomas Swann! If you've broken one of my glasses, I'll have your guts for garters…

Will / Thomas
No, no, no!

Bess, it's in the play.

The innkeeper - in the play, Bess - is going to call the police unless Christopher Sly pays for the glasses he broke. But Sly says he doesn't care about the police, he's entitled to be in the pub, and he's not moving.

Oh… well just you be careful. I won't have people breaking glasses in my pub.

Of course, Bess. Now, Thomas. Please. Speak more clearly.

No. I'm an artist, and I have to do it my way.

Bess, please read the innkeepers lines. I'll be Christopher Sly. Thomas, just listen.

Alright Mr Will, the innkeeper's lines: I know my remedy. I must go fetch the third-borough.

Will as Christopher Sly
Third, or fourth, or fifth borough, I'll answer him by law.
I'll not budge an inch, boy. Let him come, and kindly.

Now please Thomas, do it like that.

I will not do it like that.

He's just like Christopher Sly isn't he Mr Will? He won't budge an inch either.

We'll leave them there for now. Christopher Sly is just one of several stubborn characters in The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare's early comedy about the battle of the sexes. The phrase not budge an inch is used these days to describe not only objects that won't move but also people who won't change their minds. Take Simon Walker, the director general of the British Institute of Directors, who said that the British chancellor George Osborne…

Clip 1
…must not budge an inch on the crucial job of deficit reduction.

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That stupid dog refused to move. I kept pulling on the lead, but he wouldn't budge an inch.

Will, it's my way or –

Now look here Thomas -

Now stop arguing you two or I'll knock your heads together. Thomas, do what Mr Will says. It's his play.

Grrrr. To budge, or not to budge: that is the question.

Shakespeare Speaks is a co-production between BBC Learning English and The Open University. For more great Shakespeare content visit

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