Now in its first American edition, Playing Shakespeare is the premier guide to understanding and appreciating the mastery of the world’s greatest playwright.
Together with Royal Shakespeare Company actors–among them Patrick Stewart, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Ben Kingsley, and David Suchet–John Barton demonstrates how to adapt Elizabethan theater for the modern stage. The director begins by explicating Shakespeare’s verse and prose, speeches and soliloquies, and naturalistic and heightened language to discover the essence of his characters. In the second section, Barton and the actors explore nuance in Shakespearean theater, from evoking irony and ambiguity and striking the delicate balance of passion and profound intellectual thought, to finding new approaches to playing Shakespeare’s most controversial creation, Shylock, from The Merchant of Venice. A practical and essential guide, Playing Shakespeare will stand for years as the authoritative favorite among actors, scholars, teachers, and students.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Playing Shakespeare|
|Release Date: 11-10-2010|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
This eBook download is available in the following formats:
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The Two Traditions
Elizabethan and Modern Acting
[The following actors took part in the program that
forms the basis of this chapter: mike gwilym, sheila hancock,
lisa harrow, alan howard, ben kingsley,
ian mckellen, david suchet.]
Playing Shakespeare. Not reading him or writing about him but playing him. Over a thousand books or articles are written about him every year. In 1980 there were 195 books and 877 articles, many in Japanese. And yet very little is put on paper about how to act him. I think I can guess why. I have been urged to write about this but I have always felt I couldn't do it. I thought that the sort of points that need to be made could only arise truly in the living context of working with actors. On this subject each actor and his experience of acting is worth many books. So what I shall be saying in Playing Shakespeare is by itself worth nothing. It only has value if it comes alive in the performances of living and breathing actors.
The best guide to an actor who wants to play in Shakespeare comes, I think, from Shakespeare himself, who was an actor. Listen to Hamlet's advice to the players. It can't be quoted too often.
Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it as many of our players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus. But use all gently. For in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness . . . Be not too tame neither. But let your own discretion be your tutor. Su...