Playing Shakespeare


Playing Shakespeare

John Barton ; with a foreword by Trevor Nunn

Methuen Drama, 2009, c1984

  • : pbk.

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Includes index

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  • The two traditions : Elizabethan and modern acting
  • Using the verse : heightened and naturalistic verse
  • Language and character : making the words one's own
  • Using the prose : why does Shakespeare use prose?
  • Set speeches and soliloquies : taking the audience with you
  • Using the sonnets : going over some old ground
  • Irony and ambiguity : text that isn't what it seems
  • Passion and coolness : a question of balance
  • Rehearsing the text : Orsino and Viola
  • Exploring a character : playing Shylock
  • Contemporary Shakespeare : a discussion
  • Poetry and hidden poetry : three kinds of failure



"Generations of actors joining the RSC have benefited from John Barton's teaching" Trevor Nunn "One of the sanest, wisest and most practical volumes I have ever read about Shakespeare" Michael Billington John Barton is Advisory Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company and has directed some of the greatest Shakespeare productions of our time. His book, Playing Shakespeare, is a transcript of his televised workshops with some of our finest Shakespearean actors: Peggy Ashcroft, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Ben Kingsley, Patrick Stewart and David Suchet. "What the programmes and published text reveal, is the method and principle approach of acting Shakespeare which has been fundamental to the Royal Shakespeare Company since it was formed" Trevor Nunn. This new edition contains a DVD with 80mins of video featuring John Barton in conversation with Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and Jane Lapotaire discussing changes in approaches to Shakespeare's text since the book first published. This edition also features a foreword by Michael Boyd. A highly readable and non-academic approach to understanding Shakespeare's text - unlocking the hidden stage directions and actors clues that reside in his verse. "When an actor becomes aware of them, s/he will find that Shakespeare himself starts to direct them" John Barton.

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