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Shakespeare Alive! Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1988

4.1 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

From Joseph Papp, American's foremost theater producer, and writer Elizabeth Kirkland: a captivating tour through the world of William Shakespeare. Discover the London of Shakespeare's time, a fascinating place to be--full of mayhem and magic, exploration and exploitation, courtiers and foreigners. Stroll through narrow, winding streets crowded with merchants and minstrels, hoist a pint in a rowdy alehouse, and hurry across the river to the open-air Globe Theater to see that latest play written by a young man named Will Shakespeare. Shakespeare Alive! spirits you back to the very years of that London--as everyday people might have experienced it. Find out how young people fell in love, how workers and artists made ends meet, what people found funny and what they feared most. Go on location with an Elizabethan theater company to learn how plays were produced, where Shakespeare's plots came from and how he transformed them. Hear the music of Shakespeare's language and words we still use today that were first spoken in his time. Open the book and elbow your way into the Globe with the groundlings. You'll be joining one of the most democratic audiences the theater has ever known--alewives, apprentices, shoemakers and nobles--in applauding the dazzling wordplay and swordplay brought to you by William Shakespeare.

From the Inside Flap

From Joseph Papp, American's foremost theater producer, and writer Elizabeth Kirkland: a captivating tour through the world of William Shakespeare. Discover the London of Shakespeare's time, a fascinating place to be--full of mayhem and magic, exploration and exploitation, courtiers and foreigners. Stroll through narrow, winding streets crowded with merchants and minstrels, hoist a pint in a rowdy alehouse, and hurry across the river to the open-air Globe Theater to see that latest play written by a young man named Will Shakespeare. "Shakespeare Alive! spirits you back to the very years of that London--as everyday people might have experienced it. Find out how young people fell in love, how workers and artists made ends meet, what people found funny and what they feared most. Go on location with an Elizabethan theater company to learn how plays were produced, where Shakespeare's plots came from and how he transformed them. Hear the music of Shakespeare's language and words we still use today that were first spoken in his time. Open the book and elbow your way into the Globe with the groundlings. You'll be joining one of the most democratic audiences the theater has ever known--alewives, apprentices, shoemakers and nobles--in applauding the dazzling wordplay and swordplay brought to you by William Shakespeare.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (February 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553270818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553270815
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 0.6 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #334,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I teach a Shakespeare class to 11th and 12th grade high school students. The class is an elective, no one is required to take it, but it is consistently maxed out (I have 34 students next semester). One of the reasons for this is the format of the class which always begins with readings from "Shakespeare Alive!". The kids enjoy this book because it speaks directly to them as teenagers. The students have a sense of transporting themselves back in time. I highly recommend this book as a classroom set for teachers who teach Shakespeare classes or even a unit on Shakespeare; it really does bring Shakespeare Alive!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Shakespeare Alive makes a good introduction to Shakespeare not just for high schoolers, but for anyone who's new to Shakespeare. The book is well-written, being both informative and a pleasure to read. Its relatively light tone is not intimidating to the novice, and the authors don't assume knowledge that a newcomer might not have.
The book is conveniently divided into sections. After a prologue which does a good job of getting the reader to imagine Elizabethan England, we have a section on Elizabethan English life and then a section on Shakespearean theater. The Elizabethan history section provides a lot of general information spiced with intriguing details on everything from how children greeted their parents to the standards of beauty and the status of foreigners. The theater section starts in pre-Shakespeare English theater and ends in today's theater. In between is covered everything from who was in Shakespeare's audience (nearly everybody) and why (for one thing, it was the second cheapest form of entertainment available) to that student bugaboo, Shakespearean language. This section of the book no doubt benefits greatly from having its authors be connected with the theater.
A few people might object to the authors' use of imagination (for example, in showing how Shakespeare used and changed his sources, the authors invite us to imagine a Shakespeare who is leafing through a book for inspiration and dismayed by some of what he finds), but I can recall no instance of such imaginings not being clearly marked as such. Besides which, it would take a real stick-in-the-mud or a fiery anti-fantasist to be offended by the invitation to imagine Shakespeare joyfully tossing his quill in the air.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Shakespeare Alive!" is an intriguing and enjoyable visit to Shakespeare's London. Joseph Papp, founder and producer of the prestigious New York Shakespeare Festival, and Elizabeth Kirkland, a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, created not a scholarly tome, but a delightful and often humorous examination of Elizabethan culture and its impact on Shakespeare.
Other reviewers exclaim how their high school students related to "Shakespeare Alive!'. I only wish I had encountered this little book during my school years. Hat's off to Papp and Kirkland for an excellent introduction to Shakespeare's England.
A prologue casts the reader into 16th century England as a young lad wrestling with a decision to leave his familiar rural setting in search of better opportunities. Daily rural life is a struggle, food is scare, a recession makes things worse, and you have little hope. London is far away and frightening, but you have no other choice. You begin your long trek on foot.
It is an uncertain world. England is in change, emerging from an inward looking isolation, to one in which the world's boundaries seem to expand with the return of each ship from the New World. The Renaissance moved from Italy to England at an almost imperceptible pace, but it did arrive, and nothing remains the same.
"Shakespeare Alive!" explores how the English theater emerged within this cauldron of change. In 1576 James Burbage builds the first structure dedicated to housing plays and calls it the "Theater", the first time this word was used to denote a building. Within just a few years Burbage has competition - the Curtain, the Swan, the Rose, the Fortune, and Shakespeare's Globe - and all were presenting daily comedies, tragedies, histories, and romances.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Replacement for a copy of this book that I lost. The book is an excellent little synopsis of the times and writings of Shakespeare. This little book is really a five star book, but I rated it down for reasons below.

I marked it down to three stars because I was disappointed about the condition of this used book which did not meet the accepted standards for the stated condition. There was writing throughout the book and an occasional tear. I would have rated the condition as a "reading copy" or "fair", certainly not "very good" or even "good".
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Such a great read! I recommend it for all Shakespeare fans and scholars. Easy to read narrative and plenty of information on the Elizabethan era that will aid you in your study of Shakespeare's works! Bought it used.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
As an educator, I've found this helpful, lively little book is quite a bang for your buck when you need the history to engage your students. What you get is a rich range of key facts plus trivia that will grab your students' interests -- a perfect amount of information to help you prep mini-lessons before you lead students in a scene of Shakespeare.

If you need to teach a Shakespeare unit, I recommend using this, the Folger Library's Shakespeare Set Free series, and the National Council of Teachers of English publications on Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet (in particular, consider Teaching Romeo and Juliet: A Differentiated Approach). In addition, an English teacher should buy a personal copy of the Oxford School editions of Shakespeare's plays -- perfect notes to supplement in the same vein as Shakespeare Alive.
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