How to Read a Shakespeare Play

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Wiley, Jun 16, 2006 - Drama - 172 pages
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How should we read Shakespeare plays? In this clear and succinct book author David Bevington, who has extensive experience of teaching Shakespeare to students, encourages readers to approach his works aggressively, interactively, and questioningly. Bevington suggests that readers think of themselves as armchair directors, deciding what the actors should wear, what social class they represent, why they are there, and, most importantly, what they are after.

Bevington’s introduction incorporates fresh and incisive readings of a handful of popular Shakespeare plays: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Henry IV Part I, Hamlet, King Lear and The Tempest. Using these plays as examples, he demonstrates how Shakespeare worked his way forward by genres, focusing at first on romantic comedies and English history plays, and taking on the daunting assignment of writing tragedies only when he felt he was ready.

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Contents

List of Illustrations
1
A Midsummer Nights Dream
14
Romeo and Juliet
36
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

David Bevington is Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago. His recent publications include Shakespeare: The Seven Ages of Human Experience (second edition, 2005) and Shakespeare: Script, Stage, Screen (with Anne Marie Welsh and Michael L. Greenwald, 2006). He has also edited the Bantam Shakespeare in 29 volumes (currently being reedited), The Complete Works of Shakespeare (fifth edition, 2003), and a number of individual Shakespeare plays including Antony and Cleopatra, Henry IV, Part I, and Troilus and Cressida.

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