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Rescripting Shakespeare

Rescripting Shakespeare
The Text, the Director, and Modern Productions


  • Date Published: June 2002
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521007986

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About the Authors
  • Building on almost 300 productions from the last 25 years, this 2002 book focuses on the playtexts used when directors stage Shakespeare's plays: the words spoken, the scenes omitted or transposed, and the many other adjustments that must be made. Directors rescript to streamline the playscript and save running time, to eliminate obscurity, conserve on personnel, and occasionally cancel out passages that might not fit their 'concept'. They rewright when they make more extensive changes, moving closer to the role of playwrights, as when the three parts of Henry VI are compressed into two plays. Alan Dessen analyzes what such choices might exclude or preclude, and explains the exigencies faced by actors and directors in placing before today's audiences words targeted at players, playgoers, and playhouses that no longer exist. The results are of interest and importance as much to theatrical professionals as to theatre historians and students.

    • Draws upon 280 stage productions from the last 25 years performed in the UK, USA and Canada
    • Offers comparative analyses of material from recent productions with what is known about the first performances in the 1590s and early 1600s
    • Of use and interest to playgoers and theatrical professionals as well as academic specialists
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Massively detailed in its range of observation and points of detail, this book makes an important contribution to what is perhaps the most fascinating, if emergent, field in contemporary Shakespeare scholarship, namely, adaptation studies.' Journal of Theatre Research International

    'Alan C. Dessen's meticulous and accurate methods in analysing the concreteness of Shakespearean stagecraft need no further praise or demonstration. His latest opus offers a successful fusion of academic analytic capacities and an understanding of directors' aspirations and obligations.' Cahiers Elisabethains

    'Rescripting Shakespeare is an informative guide for theatregoers …'. The Journal of the English Association

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2002
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521007986
    • length: 282 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.449kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. 'Let it be hid': price tags, trade-offs, and economies
    2. Rescripting Shakespeare's contemporaries
    3. Adjustments and improvements
    4. Inserting an intermission-interval
    5. What's in an ending? Rescripting final scenes
    6. Rescripting stage directions and actions
    7. Compressing Henry VI
    8. The tamings of the shrews: rescripting the First Folio
    9. The editor as rescripter
    10. Conclusion: what's not here.

  • Author

    Alan C. Dessen, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    Alan C. Dessen is Peter G. Phialas Professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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