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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: July ::
Re: Books on Acting Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1261  Wednesday, 14 July 1999.

[1]     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jul 1999 10:34:06 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Books on Acting Shakespeare

[2]     From:   C. David Frankel <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jul 1999 10:43:45 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?

[3]     From:   Steve Urkowitz <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jul 1999 12:57:18 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?

[4]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jul 1999 10:47:06 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?

[5]     From:   Christine Mack Gordon <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jul 1999 12:25:51 CST6CDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?

[6]     From:   Matthew Gretzinger <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jul 1999 14:56:35 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?

[7]     From:   David Levine <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jul 1999 21:38:41 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jul 1999 10:34:06 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Books on Acting Shakespeare

>Would anyone care to recommend a text on acting Shakespeare?  A book for
>the modern actor who is trying, desperately, to learn how to portray the
>Bard's characters with some degree of skill?
>
>The more I act in Shakespeare plays the more I know I don't know.  I
>feel as though I'm learning less and less instead of more and more.  Any
>suggestions on worthwhile books would be greatly appreciated.

My now out-of-print A Voice For The Theatre (New York: Holt, Rinehart &
Winston, 1985), has two chapters dealing with the creation of character
by responding to the verse and its signals. Although I concentrate on
Bernardo, Francisco, Marcellus, Horatio, Claudius, Cordelia, Regan,
Goneril and Lear, the technique may be applied fruitfully to others.

I understand my book may be found in libraries.

        Harry Hill
        Montreal

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. David Frankel <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jul 1999 10:43:45 -0400
Subject: 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?
Comment:        RE: SHK 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?

Although you shouldn't take them as gospel, the RSC's Playing
Shakespeare videotape series (and the book transcription of the same
name with John Barton as author) contain many useful insights about a
certain approach to the plays.  And therein lies the rub.  There is no
one way "to learn how to portray the Bard's characters."  If you're in a
production influenced by Brechtian approaches you're likely to need a
different approach to portraying the character than if you're in a
production influenced by Asian theatre forms, or Stanislavski/realistic
ideas, etc.

cdf

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jul 1999 12:57:18 EDT
Subject: 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?

For rehearsal techniques, Cicely Berry's THE ACTOR AND HIS TEXT and
VOICE AND THE ACTOR range from breathing and sound production to
text-analysis.  Related to her work with the Royal Shakespeare Company
are the first-rate editions in the Cambridge School Editions series.
Under the general editorship of Rex Gibson, they give great imaginative
ways to engage with the texts.  They're aimed primarily for English
schools, but I've used them with actors and college students with very
happy results.

Another guide to what is "really" going on in the texts is my favorite
book of criticism, Michael Long's THE UNNATURAL SCENE (Methuen 1985?).
It is out of print but possibly available used or through books on
demand?  But Long helps primarily by showing how individual characters
fit into the dense fabric of social and psychological politics.

Bertram Joseph's ELIZABETHAN ACTING (SECOND EDITION ONLY) may be
interesting also.  He offers illustrations from Bulwer's Chironomia and
Chirographia that give an idea of how physically vigorous common speech
could be in the 17th century.

The general introductions to acting technique by Uta Hagen also fit
Shakespearean texts as long as you realize that "actions" change with
lightning rapidity.

Good luck,
Steve Actorwitz

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jul 1999 10:47:06 -0700
Subject: 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?

Mark,

I leave it to others to recommend Barton, Joseph, and Cec Berry's
books.  All are good and affordable.  The one usually overlooked is
Acting in Shakespeare by Robert Cohen.  It is expensive and harder to
find than the others, but Bob Cohen has an advantage the others don't.
He is both an acting teacher (University of California, Irvine) as well
as a professional director (Shakespeare Festivals in Utah and Colorado,
amongst others).  He also writes quite well.  It is worth a look.
(I confess a vested interest.  My company publishes the book.)

Acting in Shakespeare
by Robert Cohen
$46.95 list
0-87484-951-9
Mayfield Publishing Company
800-433-1279

Best,
Mike Jensen

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Mack Gordon <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jul 1999 12:25:51 CST6CDT
Subject: 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?

Cecily Berry, Voice and the Actor
Kristin Linklater, Freeing Shakespeare's Voice
John Barton, Playing Shakespeare

For starters. Enjoy!

Chris Gordon

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matthew Gretzinger <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jul 1999 14:56:35 -0400
Subject: 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?

I've read and reread John Barton's Playing Shakespeare and find it very
useful, though perhaps a bit dated (I'm not up on current methods of
teaching the acting of Shakespeare).  The tapes that go with it are also
great, but acquiring a complete set of them requires effort and dough.
Barton's book is actually a collection of edited discussions on
different subjects such as Prose versus Verse, Imagery, Iambic
Pentameter, Antithesis, etc.  I find he gives you a wonderful handle on
how to look at and appreciate verse - also how to deal with the very
normal actor's fear of Shakespeare.

Another excellent book is Kristina Linklater's _Freeing Shakespeare's
Voice_.  I think there is not ONE way of playing Shakespeare, though;
and those actors, directors, and teachers out there who behave as if
there is, and as if THEY know the way, are all idiots, and usually lousy
to boot.  Trust yourself, and trust your playwright.

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Levine <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jul 1999 21:38:41 EDT
Subject: 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1258 Recommended Books on Acting Shakespeare?

Right off hand, I can think of the "Lear Log" in Charles Marowitz's THE
ACT OF BEING.

Robert Cohen has a book on ACTING IN SHAKESEARE, which is pretty good.

There's a well-known textbook published by Prentice-Hall, with a really
good Shakespeare section, but I forget the title...let me go check.
Harrop and Epstein-ACTING WITH STYLE.

But far and away the best, most suggestive stuff is that fabulous John
Barton British TV series from about 1983 or 1984.  It was twelve
episodes, and featured a bunch of actors from the RSC, most of whom are
major stars now, but they just try stuff for the hell of it and Barton
comments and suggests.  The transcripts were published as PLAYING
SHAKESPEARE (Methuen, 1984).
 

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