The purpose of this book is to offer an easy-to-understand guide for community, college or high school directors and students who want to stage a Shakespearean play.
William Shakespeare’s works hold the record for the most films and stage performances in more languages than those of any other dramatist. Through the years many of us have viewed great actors in renowned Shakespearean plays on the professional stage and in films; consequently, some directors of amateur productions may want to try working with the best dramatic writing available, despite the difficulties inherent in these works.
Shakespearean plays are not easy to stage and many directors—both amateur and professional—are afraid to try them. They require more research, analysis and study than modern plays. They need larger casts and contain more scenes than most amateur directors are accustomed to and, of course, they contain poetic, archaic language that can be difficult to understand. They often call for singing, dancing, playing musical instruments, fighting and special effects. Also, they demand from directors imaginative interpretations. This book takes up these and other problems and tries to demystify the process of staging Shakespeare’s plays.
Part One of this book deals with the development of playwriting in the Elizabethan-Jacobean era. (Elizabethan concerns the time period of 1558 to 1603 when Queen Elizabeth I reigned England, while Jacobean refers to 1603 to 1625 when England was ruled by King James I. Shakespeare lived from 1564 to 1616, during both regimes.) Part One also offers a description of the theatres, the acting and the direction of plays at this time. In addition, it touches on the life and works of Shakespeare and other famous writers of this era.
Part Two discusses preparing a Shakespearean play for production today: selecting a play, researching, analyzing and interpreting your choice, acquiring a staff of workers to assist you and supervising their work.
Part Three describes auditions, casting, rehearsals and performances.
Part Four gives detailed information for preparing and directing Romeo and Juliet. The necessary research, analysis and arriving at an interpretation are described. A complete script of Romeo and Juliet is included with suggested blocking, lighting, sound, possible cuts and meaning of unusual words. There is also advice on costuming, makeup, scenery, properties, lighting, music and sound.
The appendix, which gives information about major Shakespearean plays, is followed by a list of books for further reading.