Shakespeare was a master of language, his sayings have become part of everyday speech, and his plays endure, in part, because of the beauty of his verse. Shakespeare's language, however, poses special difficulties for modern actors because many of his words seem unusual or difficult to pronounce, he employs rhetorical devices throughout his works, and he carefully uses rhythm to convey sense.
The relation of the modern actor to the Shakespearean text, the importance of understanding the nuances of his language, and the fundamentals of grammar are all thoroughly examined in this volume. Its heart is a detailed consideration of the iambic code, the metrical system that Shakespeare used to give so much power to his verse. O'Dell also examines the importance of formal rhetoric in Elizabethan England and Shakespeare's artful use of rhetorical devices in his plays. As a practical reference guide, this volume keeps in mind the particular needs of theater professionals.
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LESLIE O'DELL is Associate Professor of Theatre and English at Wilfrid Laurier University and Text Consultant for the Stratford Festival in Ontario.From Library Journal:
The goal of this trio of books by O'Dell (theater and English, Wilfrid Laurier Univ.), the text consultant for the Stratford Festival, is to help actors and students gain access to Shakespeare's plays. Each combines background information with practical techniques and exercises to be used for interpreting Shakespeare in performance. Shakespearean Language covers Shakespeare's use of rhetoric and iambic pentameter patterns to project emotion and to develop character and plot. Instructions on 16th-century scansion, grammar, and rhetorical devices are included. Shakespearean Characterization identifies the challenges involved in bringing 400-year-old characters to life. Solutions for translating Elizabethan theatrical conventions for death scenes, exits and entrances, the passage of time, and personification into conventions understood by 21st-century audiences are presented as well. In Shakespearean Scholarship, O'Dell identifies the materials she feels are the most useful for a performance-based approach, including glossaries and dictionaries, versions of the plays, pictorial representations of Elizabethan life, and other sources of historical information about the details of Shakespeare's world. Recognizing that there are differences between her ideas and scholarly ones, O'Dell emphasizes that her suggestions are intended to provide a practical approach to theatrical productions of Shakespeare's plays. Extensive reference lists and indexes are included. Recommended for public and academic libraries serving people interested in better understanding Shakespeare's plays as audience member, student, or player. Shana C. Fair, Ohio Univ., Zanesville
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