Directing Shakespeare: A Scholar Onstage

Overview

"An impossible question from a Chinese actor - "Why is Shakespeare eternal?" - drove Sidney Homan after fifty years in the theater to ponder just what makes Shakespeare ... well, Shakespeare. The result, Directing Shakespeare, reflects the two worlds in which Homan operates - as a scholar and teacher on campus, and as a director and actor in professional and university theaters." "Professor Sidney Homan's concern is the entire process, beginning in the lonely period when the director develops a concept, and moving into increasingly larger realms: ...
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Overview

"An impossible question from a Chinese actor - "Why is Shakespeare eternal?" - drove Sidney Homan after fifty years in the theater to ponder just what makes Shakespeare ... well, Shakespeare. The result, Directing Shakespeare, reflects the two worlds in which Homan operates - as a scholar and teacher on campus, and as a director and actor in professional and university theaters." "Professor Sidney Homan's concern is the entire process, beginning in the lonely period when the director develops a concept, and moving into increasingly larger realms: interaction with designers; rehearsals; and performances in which the audience's response further shapes the play." Professor Homan recounts the experience of staging King Lear accompanied by a musical score for piano, violin, and cello played live onstage. He discusses the challenge of making and trying to justify cuts in Hamlet. The chapter on The Comedy of Errors shows the ways in which scholarly and critical writings can contribute to a director's decisions on everything from casting to acting styles. A casual remark from an actress leads to a feminist production of a Midsummer Night's Dream. He describes the delicate collaboration between director and performer as he works with actors preparing for The Merchant of Venice, King Lear, and Hamlet. Other chapters treat a set designer's bold red drapes that influenced the director's concept for Julius Caesar, and the cross-influence of back-to-back runs of Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Hamlet.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
A sign once seen in a black box experimental theater space says it all: "Life is easy; Shakespeare is hard." Any actor, acting student, or director given the challenge of approaching a Shakespearean role, monolog, or play is acutely aware of the truth of that seemingly flippant statement. Hall, the great sultan of Shakespeare for the past 50 years, helps actors approach and understand the unique language and performance demands of the Bard's plays. Founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company and former director of the Royal National Theatre, Hall has written nothing short of a magnum opus. Assembled here are the techniques, insights, and wisdom accrued through his decades of work on hundreds of landmark productions with the leading actors of several generations, so that they may be passed on as part of a "living tradition." Arranged in three parts, the text focuses on the technical structure of Shakespeare's language, covering such areas as blank verse, scansion, line structure, prose, and rhetorical devices. Part 2 includes a detailed and wonderfully revelatory analysis of 20 significant speeches. Hall concludes with a memoirlike section titled "On a Personal Note" in which he reminiscences about his career, actors, and productions. There will be no finer book on Shakespeare this year; for all theater arts collections. Homan leads an attractive dual life as an English professor (Univ. of Florida) and a professional director/sometime actor. In his preface, he relates a seminal personal experience in which an esteemed retiring Shakespearean scholar (whom he was to replace in his first full-time, postgraduate position) told him he had never seen, and never would see, a Shakespearean production. Homan crystallizes his concern with the gap between the classroom and the stage in detailed chapters dealing with, among other things, conceptual ideas for The Comedy of Errors, how to approach King Lear onstage, working with actors in various productions, the process of cutting lines from Shakespeare, and the intersection of design and concept for Julius Caesar. Homan adroitly walks the scholar-practitioner tightrope; his text reflects the detailed and insightful analysis of a scholar while remaining accessible to a wider audience of performers and directors. Recommended for strong theater arts collections.-Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., TX Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780821415504
  • Publisher: Ohio University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface: Bridging the Gap between Text and Performance
Acknowledgments
Creating Lear Onstage 1
Cutting Shakespeare 19
A Director's Concept for The Comedy of Errors 31
Interacting with the Actors: The Merchant of Venice, King Lear, and Hamlet 49
Set Design and Theatrical Presence in Julius Caesar 63
Adapting A Midsummer Night's Dream for the Cast, Producer, and Theater 73
A Mirror for Staging Hamlet: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead 87
"Why, Sir, Is Shakespeare Eternal?" 107
Never Too Young, Never Too Old 135
Notes 139
Pertinent Sources 145
Index 149
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