1st Edition

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

ISBN 9780815352105
Published March 22, 2018 by Routledge
236 Pages

USD $42.95

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents


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

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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.

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Author - Bill  Kincaid

Bill Kincaid

Head of Performance, Western Illinois University
Macomb, Illinois, USA

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