Staging Shakespearean Theatre: The Essential Guide to Selecting, Interpreting, Producing and Directing Shakespeare

By Elaine Adams Novak | Go to book overview

Part Two
Preparing to Direct a
Shakespearean Play

Part Two is concerned with selecting a Shakespearean play for production, doing the necessary research and analysis, arriving at your interpretation of the work, recruiting a staff of people to help you and supervising their work.


Select a Play

In Part One you will find a complete list of Shakespeare’s known plays. If you are charged with directing one of them, your first job is to make a selection. Perhaps you already have a favorite: You have admired Hamlet or Julius Caesar since you read it in high school or college; you liked a film production of Romeo and Juliet or Othello; you laughed at a professional production of As You Like It or Twelfth Night.

Go through the list of Shakespeare’s plays and choose the ones you respond to favorably. Then read them carefully, imagining all the while how you would cast each one with the actors available to you, how the play would look on your stage and how your audience would like it. Be sure also that you have sufficient rehearsal time available, because you will probably find that a Shakespearean play will take longer to prepare than a typical two-act modern play. Because of the language difficulty, you had better plan to rehearse several weeks more than you would for a contemporary play.

Narrow the list down to two plays. To make your final choice, ask your theatrical friends and colleagues which one they would prefer to see. If you are in a school situation, you may have to get the approval of a committee or the chairperson of your department or the dean. If you are in a community theatre situation, you may need the consent of a board of directors or, perhaps, the entire membership.

Money is an important consideration, and you may have to prepare a tentative budget for the production that includes probable income and costs. See Figure 2-1 for possible items that may apply to your situation. One item that is found in most modern play budgets, but does not appear in Figure 2-1, is royalty, since Shakespeare’s plays are in public domain. The cost of scripts depends on whether you prefer to buy everyone a printed book of the play or to have your cut and edited script typed and duplicated for all who need it.

Just be sure that you end up with a selection you like. You are going to have to spend several months of your life on this production, so be certain you have a play you will enjoy reading, interpreting, teaching and directing.


Research

After you have selected the play, read it several times using different editions, which you can find at your library or bookstore. Look at the following: The Arden Shakespeare, The New Folger Library Edition of Shake-

-9-

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Staging Shakespearean Theatre: The Essential Guide to Selecting, Interpreting, Producing and Directing Shakespeare
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • About the Author v
  • Table of Contents vi
  • Preface viii
  • Part One - Introduction 1
  • Part Two - Preparing to Direct a Shakespearean Play 9
  • Part Three - From Auditions through Performances 31
  • Part Four - Preparing and Directing Romeo and Juliet 54
  • Appendix - Other Important Plays by Shakespeare 161
  • Suggested Readings 179
  • Index 182
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