Shakespeare’s Authentic Performance Texts

The Case for Staging from the First Folio

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About the Book

When we pick up a copy of a Shakespeare play, we assume that we hold in our hands an original record of his writing. We don’t. Present-day printings are an editor’s often subjective version of the script. Around 25 percent of any Shakespeare play will have been altered, and this creates an enormous amount of confusion. The only authentic edition of Shakespeare’s works is the First Folio, published by his friends and colleagues in 1623.
This volume makes the case for printing and staging the plays as set in the First Folio, which preserved actor cues that helped players understand and perform their roles. The practices of modern editors are critiqued. Also included are sections on analyzing and acting the text, how a complex character can be created using the First Folio, and a director’s approach to rehearsing Shakespeare with various exercises for both professional and student actors. In conclusion, all of the findings are applied to Measure for Measure.

About the Author(s)

London based Graham Watts has directed 28 professional Shakespeare productions in the United States, the UK, and Europe.

Bibliographic Details

Graham Watts
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 260
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9720-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1872-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments  vi

Preface  1

Introduction. How Did This Argument Begin?  3

1. The Heavy Hand of the Editors: “Oh pardon me … that I am meek and gentle with these butchers”  15

2. The Shaman at Work: “Words, words, words”  30

3. Bungling Printers: “You strike like the blind man”  51

4. Creating a Role from the Folio Text: “Know you the character?”  67

5. Shakespeare’s Rogues and Vagabonds: “Unperfect actors”?  108

6. Character as Actor: “I can counterfeit the deep tragedian”  121

7. Ambiguity: “Faire is foule, and foule is faire”  147

8. A Director’s Approach: “The rich advantage of good exercise”  173

9. Weighing Up the Options: “Measure for Measure”  199

Conclusion. “I’ll to my book, for yet ere ­supper-time I must perform”  213

Chapter Notes  219

Bibliography  241

Index  247


Book Reviews & Awards

“Insightful, in-depth analyses…recommended”—Choice.