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December 22 , 2007

Rescripting Shakespeare


Building on almost 300 productions from the last 25 years, Alan Dessen 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. 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.

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