Shakespeare in Parts

Paperback | December 8, 2010

bySimon Palfrey, Tiffany Stern

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A truly groundbreaking collaboration of original theatre history with exciting literary criticism, Shakespeare in Parts is the first book fully to explore the original form in which Shakespeare's drama overwhelmingly circulated. This was not the full play-text; it was not the publicperformance. It was the actor's part, consisting of the bare cues and speeches of each individual role. With group rehearsals rare or non-existent, the cued part alone had to furnish the actor with his character. But each such part-text was riddled with gaps and uncertainties. The actor knew what hewas going to say, but not necessarily when, or why, or to whom; he may have known next to nothing of any other part. It demanded the most sensitive attention to the opportunities inscribed in the script, and to the ongoing dramatic moment. Here is where the young actor Shakespeare learnt his trade;here is where his imagination, verbal and technical, learnt to roam. This is the story of Shakespeare in Parts. As Shakespeare developed his playwriting, the apparent limitations of the medium get transformed into expressive opportunities. Both cue and speech become promise-crammed repositories of meaning and movement, and of individually discoverable space and time.Writing always for the same core group of players, Shakespeare could take - and insist upon - unprecedented risks. The result is onstage drama of astonishing immediacy. Starting with a comprehensive history of the part in early modern theatre, Simon Palfrey and Tiffany Stern's mould-altering work of historical and imaginative recovery provides a unique keyhole onto hitherto forgotten practices and techniques. It not only discovers a newly active, choice-riddenactor, but a new Shakespeare.

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From the Publisher

A truly groundbreaking collaboration of original theatre history with exciting literary criticism, Shakespeare in Parts is the first book fully to explore the original form in which Shakespeare's drama overwhelmingly circulated. This was not the full play-text; it was not the publicperformance. It was the actor's part, consisting of th...

Simon Palfrey is Fellow and Tutor in English at Brasenose College, Oxford. Tiffany Stern is Fellow and Tutor in English at University College, Oxford

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:560 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.01 inPublished:December 8, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199591105

ISBN - 13:9780199591107

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Table of Contents

IntroductionI: History1. The Actor's Part2. The Actors3. Rehearsing and PerformingII: Interpreting Cues4. History of the Cue5. Interpreting Shakespeare's Cues6. Cues and Characterisation7. Waiting and Suddenness: the Part in Time8. Repeated Cues9. Repeated cues: from Crowds to Clowns10. Repeated cues: comi-tragic/tragic-comic pathos11. Repeated cues and the battle for the cue-space: The Merchant of Venice12. Repeated cues and tragedy13. Repeated cues and the cue-space in King Lear14. Repeated cues and post-tragic effects15. Repeated Cues and the Cue-Space in The TempestIII: The Actor With His Part16. History17. Dramatic prosody18. Prosodic Switches: From Actor's Prompt to Absent Presence19. Midline shifts in 'mature' Shakespeare: from actorly instruction to 'virtual' presence20. Case studies: six romantic heroines and three lonely men

Editorial Reviews

"this is a lucid and persuasive study that successfully infuses academic Shakespeare with the vibrancy and insecurity of live performance: 'Shakespeare's actors had to play their parts now, perilously in the present.'" --Peter J. Smith, THES 14/03/2008