Academic journal article Shakespeare Bulletin

How Long Do You Think It Will Run?

Academic journal article Shakespeare Bulletin

How Long Do You Think It Will Run?

Article excerpt

To estimate the playing time of a Shakespearean text, for many years the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has used a method put forth by Ed Brubaker in his self-published book Shakespeare Aloud, an equation fine-tuned over many seasons and many productions in Ashland: the total number of lines multiplied by .06 equals the show's estimated running time in minutes.

Five years ago, however, the Festival began using Shakespearean texts commercially available on CD-ROM, making it possible, with the click of a mouse, to know the exact number of words in a text, and thereby to estimate the running time of a show based upon a word count, rather than a line count.

By compiling data from fourteen of our Shakespearean productions of the past five seasons, played in three different venues, and performed by hundreds of different actors, each with their own idiosyncratic rate of speaking, I offer the following method: the total number of words divided by 135 equals the show's estimated running time in minutes.

OSF Production             Word Count (1)   Run Time (2)   Words per
                                             in minutes     Minute

Henry V ('00)                 21,662           155            140

Twelfth Night ('00)           21,383           142            151

Merry Wives of
  Windsor ('01)               21,158           169            126

Tempest ('01)                 16,074           125            129

As You Like It ('02)          22,400           170            132

Winter's Tale ('02)           26,186           173            152

Romeo and Juliet ('03)        17,155           140            123

Richard II ('03)              19,175           150            128

Antony and
  Cleopatra ('03)             20,418           155            132

Comedy of Errors ('04)        15,402           107            144

Henry VI, Part One ('04)      13,026           107            122

Henry VI, Parts Two
  & Three ('04)               20,053           157            128

King Lear ('04)               25,238           176            144

Much Ado about
  Nothing ('04)               21,415           153            140

                                    Average Words Per Minute: 135

Notes

(1) "Word Count" includes an stage directions and speech headings in the text, and subtracts all cuts in the text made by the director during pre-production and rehearsals. …

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