Properly performing Shakespeare calls for a full understanding of the script: the director and actors should share perceptions of the characters’ personalities, motivations and actions, and of what they say means.
But all too often theater folks’ reliance on differing texts — assembled by academic scholars focused on literary and Elizabethan-Jacobean history, not on living performance today — results in a production with passages that are disjointed or puzzling, if not just plain opaque to the audience.
The PlayShakespeare Library and the website Shakespeare Right Now! offer — for free — help with getting everyone on the same page: the full Globe-edition dialog of each play, presented within a clear narrative like a novel’s, with no footnotes.
All of the standard canon’s 37 titles are now available, free for personal use, to members here as Microsoft Word files, and at www.wsrightnow.com, where they can be downloaded: as documents — Word (.doc), portable document (.pdf), and rich-text (.rtf); in Web browsers’ hypertext markup language (.html); and in the e-book formats EPUB, MOBI, LRF and PDB.
The files use no DRM (digital rights management) copy-protection scheme, and no registration is required at Shakespeare Right Now! to download them, or to read them on line.
Having the cast and crew all begin from the same clear, basic story conception will make for greater accord among a company’s finished scenes, and consistency in the staged whole, even if, for a particular show, the director decides to change some things.
Note: iTunes supports the PDF and EPUB formats; drag a file in either to your iTunes library, and it will be filed under Books.
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