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A Lifetime with Shakespeare: Notes from an American Director of All 38 Plays Paperback – September 9, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0786449538 ISBN-10: 0786449535 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland; 1 edition (September 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786449535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786449538
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,252,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Paul Barry has spent 60 years as a professional actor and musician on stage and in films, and has directed over 300 plays and musicals.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Geddeth Smith on November 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
Paul Barry is well known as an actor-manager and the founder of the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, for which he served as Artistic Director for the first twenty-five years of its existence. During that time he produced and directed the entire Shakespearean canon including Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen, the two plays on which, most scholars agree, Shakespeare collaborated. This was a distinguished landmark for the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, as it would be for any theatre in the English-speaking world.
Producing and directing the entire canon is an equally distinguished achievement for a director, especially when he has directed many of the individual plays two, three, four times as either a guest director or under his own management. Few directors achieve that depth of experience with Shakespeare's plays.
Paul Barry has; and he records that experience in his newly published book A Lifetime with Shakespeare. We are fortunate that he has done this because it is one of the finest books about the production, direction, and performance of Shakespeare's plays that we have. And it takes a rightful and honorable place alongside B. Iden Payne's A Life in a Wooden O and Margaret Webster's Shakespeare without Tears for like them Barry writes from the viewpoint of a theatrical craftsman: one with an understanding of the period in which the plays were written; the theatre in which they were performed; the audiences that came to see them; the humanity of Shakespeare's characters; the power of the language that illuminates the plays; and above all the art of the actor that brings them to life. Barry writes of all this and much more in clear, direct, and cogent prose interlaced with delightful humor and inspired by a passionate dedication to the plays and the playwright.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By maureen Flaherty on November 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After attending many wonderful productions at the New Jersey Shakespreare Festival, I became a fan of Paul Barry, its Artistic Director and author of a new book, A LIFETIME WITH SHAKESPEARE. I read this book recently and found his writing style easy to follow and its contents illuminating.
The first chapter is essential in getting the reader to understand the importance of the actors, the stage, and the resident company. Turning to the plays, I like his discussion of casting and his vision of what the characters should be like. Important to me are his comments on various actors, their perfomances, and the background of the plays including the historical aspects of some of the productions. Of course, the fight scenes and his comments about them add insight into what he emphasizes in his productions. Comparing the warriors with the United States Marines is great because if one understands the mental mindset of these contemporary fighters, then one will understand that combat soldiers have not changed through the centuries. "We continually wage war because we've always waged war." He describes in wonderful detail the staging of the battle scenes and the evolution of the uniforms and battle gear to look effective to the audience while protecting the actors.
He takes each play and discusses the process of staging it while also referring to what works on the stage and what does not. It is interesting that he discusses other directors' productions of the plays, their successes, and their failures, although he does not criticize them harshly. The side comments are great. An example is when Herman LaVerfne Jones is Roger Robinson's understudy. Mr. Barry discusses Herman's fears when he took over the job of Othello because Rogers is too sick to perform; this adds a personal touch.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Falen on October 25, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very entertaining and informative book, full of wit and good sense and a passion for Shakespeare's plays. Part engaging memoir, part practical handbook, distilling a lifetime's creative experience of acting in and directing Shakespeare, it offers an opinionated (in the best sense) and useful reflection on the challenges, pitfalls and pleasures of staging the great Master Will. Certainly there are scholars who know the full canon well, but I can't imagine that there is another director who has such a comprehensive grasp of all these truly wonderful as well as the not-so-wonderful plays and who brings such an informed theater person's perspective to them.

The author's central dogma as a director: fidelity to the playwright and his text and to his emotional truths and his intellectual questionings, to his intentions insofar as study and research and deep thought can help in determining them. His exploration of individual plays and his discussion of specific problems in staging them is full of insights and of plain, but uncommon good sense. His discussions on casting, characterization, timing, motivation, the importance of seasons and times of day, and a host of other matters come from long experience in theater, but his approach is also informed by close scholarly study as well.
It would have been more pedestrian, perhaps, to do so, but there might have been some advantages had the author organized his discussion of the plays into genre categories: comedies, tragedies, histories and fantasies(?). But his discussion of individual plays is full of provocative insights. He is especially eloquent on the plays he regards as Shakespeare's great three: Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Lear.
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A Lifetime with Shakespeare: Notes from an American Director of All 38 Plays
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