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Speaking Shakespeare
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About the Author

Patsy Rodenburg is the Director of Voice at London's Royal National Theater and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She is the author of The Actor Speaks (Palgrave Macmillan 2000).

Reviews

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 Cahners Business Information.

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. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"As a teacher of Shakespeare, I have searched for years for a text that is readable, practical, illuminating and joyful. Finally, with Speaking Shakespeare, I have found it. In the words of my students, 'I love reading this book. I feel like I'm happening on some untold secret, and every note Rodenburg gives us is a clue on how to be great.'" --Janet B. Rodgers, Virginia Commonwealth University, in American Theatre

..".an excellent resource...there are gems in this book for novices and veterans alike." --Jeff Crockett, Dramatics

"I am an enormous fan of her work. What is wonderful about her is the directness and clarity of her teaching and her enthusiasm." --Judi Dench

"Patsy Rodenburg is one of the best teachers I have known; she is a constant source of strength and inspiration." --Antony Sher

..".rich with information and nicely focused. Recommended..." --Library Journal

"In Rodenburg's capable hands, Shakespeare's complicated words and ideas become completely clear." --Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Patsy Rodenburg

"Patsy Rodenburg is the most respected voice coach in Britain...a dynamo of thoughts, suggestions and exercises. . . Ms. Rodenburg's work is never theoretical, always practical..." --Mel Gussow, The New York Times on Patsy Rodenburg

"Seven steps to a thespian heaven. . . The Actor Speaks is a stimulating read and an invaluable reference for all actors. It could well become a landmark book." --The Stage on Patsy Rodenburg

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