1st Edition

Cutting Plays for Performance A Practical and Accessible Guide

By Toby Malone, Aili Huber Copyright 2022
    164 Pages 57 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    164 Pages 57 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Cutting Plays for Performance offers a practical guide for cutting a wide variety of classical and modern plays. This essential text offers insight into the various reasons for cutting, methods to serve different purposes (time, audience, story), and suggests ways of communicating cuts to a production team.

    Dealing with every aspect of the editing process, it covers structural issues, such as plot beats, rhetorical concepts, and legal considerations, why and when to cut, how to cut with a particular goal in mind such as time constraints, audience and storytelling, and ways of communicating cuts to a production team. A set of practical worksheets to assist with the planning and execution of cuts, as well as step-by-step examples of the process from beginning to end in particular plays help to round out the full range of skills and techniques that are required when approaching this key theatre-making task.

    This is the first systematic guide for those who need to cut play texts. Directors, dramaturgs, and teachers at every level from students to seasoned professionals will find this an indispensable tool throughout their careers.

    Introduction; Chapter 1: The Text is a Lie: Textual History and Why It Matters; Chapter 2: Start Here: The Three Questions; Chapter 3: The Cutter’s Toolkit Part One: Materials; Chapter 4: The Cutter’s Toolkit Part Two: Strategies and Considerations; Chapter 5: Cut to the Quick: Character-Specific Cuts; Chapter 6: Don’t Cut That!: The Mechanics of Cuts; Chapter 7: Cut to the Moment: Production-Specific Cuts; Chapter 8: Scissors, Paste, and Negotiations: Communicating Cuts; Appendix 1: Legal Concerns; Appendix 2: Cut Activities; Appendix 3: Further Reading


    Toby Malone holds a PhD in Shakespearean textual analysis from the University of Toronto and is Assistant Professor of Dramaturgy at the State University of New York at Oswego. Select favorite cuts include The Comedy of Errors (Canadian Stage Company, Toronto), Romeo + Juliet (Driftwood Theatre, Toronto), Hamlet (Variorum) (Poorboy Theatre, Glasgow and Toronto), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Soulpepper, Toronto), #R3 (University of Waterloo), and King Lear (Stratford Festival, Canada). He is a founding partner in subTEXT Dramaturgy Solutions and the Entertainment Engineering Collective, and is an active member of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and the Dramatists Guild of America.

    Aili Huber holds an MFA in directing from Mary Baldwin University and the American Shakespeare Center. She has been directing for over 20 years. Favorite credits include Sperm Donor Wanted with Slow Your Role Theater Co., Romeo and Juliet, The Duchess of Malfi, Antony and Cleopatra, and Richard III with Pigeon Creek Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale at Bridgewater College, Noye’s Fludde at Eastern Mennonite High School, and JB at Eastern Mennonite University. She is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and the Shakespeare Theater Association, and a Tier 3 member of Directors Gathering.

    "Anyone who stages Shakespeare’s plays—and those of other leading playwrights—knows that to revive these works typically means to trim them. But how should they be cut? And at what cost? Cutting Plays for Performance brilliantly explores the techniques and approaches that govern how this is done. It’s an original and practical book, one that actors, directors, scholars, and playgoers will find—as I have—an engrossing and invaluable read." James Shapiro, Author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare

    "Drawing on interviews with some of the world's leading directors as well as their own experiences of the stage, Malone and Huber have produced a lively and engaging guide to an essential (but often invisible) component of any theatrical performance: cutting the text. With examples from across the dramatic canon and written in an accessible style, Cutting Plays for Performance is an indispensable resource for budding students, practitioners, and critics of theatre. I still can't believe this book hasn't existed until now." Brett Greatley-Hirsch, Leeds University, UK

    "In Cutting Plays for Performance, Aili Huber and Toby Malone offer practical and insightful tips suitable for the novice or an experienced practitioner. Their rich collection of insights and anecdotes from a variety of sources illuminates the travails and joys inherent in shaping text for performance. This resource will prove a valuable tool for teachers, directors, and dramaturgs." Sarah Enloe, Shakespeare Theatre Association President

    "Cutting Plays for Performance is pragmatic, firmly grounded in scholarship and theatre practice, and written with humour and clarity. One of the best ways of knowing what work is done by the individual components of a play, is to try taking them out, and this lively guide is a great place to start for anyone working with dramatic texts, whether as actor, director, dramaturg—or reader. Highly recommended!" Russell Jackson, Emeritus Professor of Drama, University of Birmingham, UK and Script Advisor, Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespeare films