1st Edition

Performing Shakespeare Unrehearsed A Practical Guide to Acting and Producing Spontaneous Shakespeare

By Bill Kincaid Copyright 2018
    236 Pages
    by Routledge

    236 Pages
    by Routledge

    Performing Shakespeare Unrehearsed: A Practical Guide to Acting and Producing Spontaneous Shakespeare outlines how Shakespeare’s plays can be performed effectively without rehearsal, if all the actors understand a set of performance guidelines and put them into practice.

    Each chapter is devoted to a specific guideline, demonstrating through examples how it can be applied to pieces of text from Shakespeare’s First Folio, how it creates blocking and stage business, and how it enhances story clarity. Once the guidelines have been established, practical means of production are discussed, providing the reader with sufficient step-by-step instruction to prepare for Unrehearsed performances.

    This book is written for the actor and performer.


    Chapter One: Why Unrehearsed?


    Reading the Cue Script

    Other Sources

    Chapter Two: Meter in Shakespeare

    Basics of Iambic Pentameter


    Short Lines

    Expanding –ed Endings

    Expanding Consecutive Pronounced Vowels

    Long Lines

    Shortening Consecutive Pronounced Vowels

    Unaccented Medial Vowels

    Shortening Words with Medial V

    Contracting "The"

    Overfull Lines

    Inverted Feet

    Beginnings of Speeches

    Within Speeches


    Chapter Three: This, That, Here, and There

    Onstage Alone

    Including the Audience



    There and Here

    Onstage with Other Characters

    Identifying Yourself



    Hero’s Blush


    Audience as Characters



    Audience Confrontation


    Chapter Four: We, Us, and Our

    Ophelia’s Flowers and Herbs

    Rosemary and Pansies

    Fennel and Columbines


    Grouping: Collective Words

    Wearing the Rue

    More Examples of Singular Versus Collective

    Othello and Desdemona

    Valentine, Speed, and the Outlaws

    Unusual Grouping Scenarios

    Grouping with Audience Members

    Kings and Grouping

    Mark Antony, Brutus, and the Assassins


    Chapter Five: Thou and You

    The Effect of Thou on Blocking

    Thou between King and Subject

    Thou between Powerful and Powerless

    Thou between Parent and Child

    Thou between Lovers

    Thou between Husband and Wife

    Thou Overpowering I/Me/My

    Thou Implied by Verb Form


    Chapter Six: Following and Throwing Stage Directions

    Thrown Stage Directions: Blocking

    Combinations with Written Stage Directions

    Times When Stage Directions Should Not Be Followed

    Impractical Abstractions

    Improvised Dialogue


    Creating Confusion

    Thrown Directions Requiring Rehearsal

    Music and Dancing

    Dead Bodies


    Throwing Directions to the Audience


    Chapter Seven: Cross to the Character….

    Crosses to Cue-Givers

    Speaking To and Speaking About

    Relationship Revelation

    Intensifying Conflict

    Exception: Characters in Hiding


    Chapter Eight: Action to the Word

    Action to the Verb: Thus

    Action to the Verb: Will

    Future Action at a Specific Time

    Impossible Actions

    Prevented by Circumstance

    Prevented by Practicality

    Prevented by Time

    Prevented by Dialogue

    Playable Action on Future Verbs





    Combinations of Impossible and Playable

    Descriptive Action to the Word

    Descriptive Action to the Word in Context

    Descriptive Action to the Word: Thus


    Chapter Nine: Overlapping Speech

    Short Lines and Overlap

    Hamlet at Ophelia’s Grave

    Mark Antony with the Plebeians

    Simultaneous Speech

    Repeated Cues


    Chapter Ten: Preparing for Unrehearsed Performance

    Cue Scripts

    Creating Text Documents

    Building Scrolls

    Casting and Doubling

    Developing a Doubling Chart


    Platts and Prompter

    Rehearsed Segments: Performance Based




    Rehearsed Segments: Practicality Based

    Furniture and Large Props

    Quaint Devices

    Costumes and Props

    Text Sessions

    Marking the Cue Script

    Epilogue: In Performance

    Guideline Summary

    Unrehearsed Shakespeare Guidelines in 200 Words

    Unrehearsed Shakespeare Guidelines in 100 Words

    Unrehearsed Shakespeare Guidelines in 50 Words

    Unrehearsed Shakespeare Guidelines in 25 Words

    Unrehearsed Shakespeare Guidelines in 15 Words

    Unrehearsed Shakespeare Guidelines in Five Words



    Bill Kincaid is a Professor of Theatre at Western Illinois University, and founder of Bard in the Barn, an event that has mounted Unrehearsed productions of 17 of Shakespeare’s plays. He has acted in Shakespeare productions at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, the New England Shakespeare Festival, and Chicago’s Vitalist Theatre, and directs regularly at the Crossroads Repertory Theatre in Indiana and New York’s Cortland Repertory Theatre. He is a three-time recipient of the Classical Acting Coach Award from the National Partners— American Theatre, and was presented with the Illinois Theatre Association’s Award of Honor in 2014.