Magazine article Stage Directions

Words to the Wise

Magazine article Stage Directions

Words to the Wise

Article excerpt

New books for directors, actors, teachers & writers

Theatre is all about words- whether we're talking about the playwright's script, the director's work with the players, or what comes out of the actors' mouths in performance. This month's round-up of new books and DVDs emphasizes the communication process in all these areas.

Playing Shakespeare features nine master classes in Shakespearean performance on four DVDs, with the help of such well-known British actors as Judy Dench, Ben Kingsley, Peggy Ashcroft, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and David Suchet. The series debuted on PBS in the mid-1980s, and it holds up well. The intimate, informal setting features the Royal Shakespeare Company's John Barton in conversation with 21 performers, as they explore verse, character motivation and fresh approaches to classic speeches. A 20-page viewer's guide is a helpful addition. [$79.99, Acorn Media. John Barton's Actor's Guide to the original TV series is available for $1 3.95 from Anchor Books.]

Offering a narrower focus is Hamlet: Character Studies, in which author Michael Davies approaches the classic play through an analysis of its key characters. There is an introductory overview of the text (including the play's sources, reception and critical tradition) and a solid discussion of its narrative structure, before moving on to detailed studies of key characters such as Hamlet, Gertrude and Ophelia; as well as the play's more minor (yet still important) personages. Davies ends with a section that links the characters, key themes and issues. If s nicely done throughout [$16.95, Continuum Books]

As the title suggests. Script Analysis for Actors, Directors and Designers, provides an analytical method for getting at the heart of a play in ways that are most useful to those working on an actual production. This fourth edition for the first time includes in-depth analysis of several recent unconventional plays, which often present unique analytical challenges. …

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