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Speaking Shakespeare Paperback – July 16, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Although Shakespeare is the most famous-and lauded-writer in English, most adult readers, theatergoers and students would be hard pressed to admit they fully understand the complexity or complete meaning of his language. Rodenburg, the director of voice at London's National Theater, has written an excellent training guide for actors tackling the Bard, methodically escorting the amateur or professional thespian from understanding individual words to reading lines to performing entire speeches, emphasizing breathing, finding a rhythm, grounding the character in imaginative time and place, and understanding Shakespeare's world view. While Rodenberg's book will be a boon for actors, it deserves a wider audience. By approaching Shakespeare's plays through the lens of the building-blocks of performance, she gives both the common reader and playgoer enormous insight into reading-and hearing-the playwright's words. It's difficult to think of a better way for the layperson to understand Shakespeare's language than by approaching it from the inside out. Her brief but extraordinarily useful explications of the use of puns, irony and rhyme, as well as her examination of how contrasting verse with prose changes tone and meaning, also give a terrific underpinning in understanding the plays. In Rodenberg's capable hands, Shakespeare's complicated words and ideas become completely clear. Her systematic analysis of 17 speeches from some of the more famous plays is a great primer to how character and plot are intertwined in the work. While not a full analysis of Shakespeare's works, this book will be incredibly worthwhile for actors as well as anyone interested in his plays.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

By exploring the mechanics of Shakespeare's writing, these books clearly illustrate how to speak and understand his texts and ultimately break down the language barrier. Both cover the bard's powerful iambic pentameter and its effect on pronunciation, the irregularities that reveal the emotional and psychological state of each character, and how each word works in relation to another concerning prose, verse, blank verse, and rhyming verse. Scheeder, founder and director of the Classical Studio at New York University, and Younts, professor of the techniques of voice and text at the same institution, present a highly useful pronunciation dictionary, supplemented by a glossary that defines character names, places, and unfamiliar words. They use the International Phonetics Alphabet, respell vowels in their key to pronunciation, and intricately mark in scansion each word. When a word can be pronounced two different ways, they indicate both followed by the play, the act, and the scene in which each form is used. Rodenburg, director of voice at London's Royal National Theatre, divides her training guide into four parts, offering practical exercises that aid in comprehending the speeches that define a character's mental state and intentions. Her book uses two guideposts: the givens (including the word, the line, rhyme, and the story) and the imaginative connections necessary to make a piece engaging to both the actor and the audience. Many books exist to help actors approach Shakespeare's works, but they tend toward more general overviews. Both of these books are rich with information and nicely focused. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries. Elizabeth Stifter, Brooklyn, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (July 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403965404
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403965400
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure why I purchased this book in the first place--something told me I wouldn't understand Shakespeare simply by reading it unless I really learned to speak it.
It's blown my world wide open. This is an astonishing book--which even if it apparently looks like a workbook for actors, is more importantly a guide for anyone who'd like to know what planet she's landed on. Because you can't know much about planet earth if you don't know much about Shakespeare--and the secrets Shakespeare is willing to share with you aren't available unless you can hear his lines, and you can't hear them if you can't speak them.
Understand, I've been reading Shakespeare for 40 years. this book has doubled the pleasure and depth of the experience for me.
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Format: Hardcover
Oddly enough, words seem completely inadequate to describe Patsy and her teaching. She is an absolute hero and beyond extraordinary...there are few who understand the human being and their voice better than she. If you don't have the opportunity to be in her presence, and learn from her in person (an undeniably mind-blowing experience), then her books are definitely next best thing. Her writing is always incredibly concise and powerful, but this one is particularly full of wonderful examples and imagery. Her structure and method is so clearly laid out, and her passion is always present in her writing (no matter the book), it is almost as if you are in the room with her. This book would be an invaluable addition to any library, as would any or all of her other works. Patsy Rodenburg is quite simply one-of-a-kind amazing!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, with Cicely Berry's 'The Actor and the Text', are two of the best books I've ever read about acting, period. As they say - and it's been my experience - if you can do Shakespeare, you can do anything. Essential for any serious actor.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful, easy-to follow, passionately-written guide to playing Shakespeare. Classical actor or not, you'll benefit from reading this great book from Shakespeare-afficianado Patsy Rodenburg.
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By Brad C. on August 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Patsy Rodenburg goes to the heart of the matter. Some useful "intellectual" exercises, and then on to the business of acting -- i.e. leaving the intellectual in the studio (where it belongs) and "taking action" through the use of Shakespeare's language.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was purchased for a young actor friend who is studying Shakespeare. He has the added challenge of being a non-native speaker and this book has been a tremendous help with learning the rhythms of English speech. Highly recommended for anyone interested in performing Shakespeare, with advice from someone who is clearly an expert.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent, as expected from Ms. Rodenburg. I use it for myself and with students. Clear, concise, and no nonsense it is an excellent teaching resource.
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Format: Hardcover
I had to use this text as part of a class at VCU called Speaking Shakepeare. It is wise to realize that this text, since it is voice and movement related necessitates that one must use the material outside just reading it. Reading Rodenburg can be repetitive at times. However, her approach and detailed examples accentuates the translating of the foreign language of Shakespeare into a palpable and manipulative text. This practical approach takes the hindering and fright out of the playwright's words. I have had great success, thanks to using this book as an aide in tackling Shakespeare. A worth while investment. Just make sure that you apply it step by step, not all at once.
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