Playing Shakespeare: An Actor's Guide

Front Cover
Anchor Books, 2001 - Drama - 265 pages
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.

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Playing Shakespeare: an actor's guide

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Walking the boards in a play by the Bard can be one of the most rewarding and frightening experiences of an actor's life. Drawing on 35 years' experience as associate director of the Royal Shakespeare ... Read full review


Objective Things
Using the VerseHeightened and Naturalistic Verse
Taking the Audience with You Io
Using the SonnetsGoing Over Some Old Ground
Subjective Things
Passion and CoolnessA Question of Balance
Rehearsing the TextOrsino and Viola
Io Exploring a CharacterPlaying Shylock
Contemporary ShakespeareA Discussion
I2 Poetry and Hidden PoetryThree Kinds of Failure

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About the author (2001)

John Barton has been associate director of the Royal Shakespeare Company for more than thirty-five years and has directed more than fifty productions. He lives in London and conducts Shakespeare workshops throughout the U.K. and the U.S.

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