By Colin Butler
"A resource for high school teachers and their advanced students, for undergraduate faculty and their students in survey courses that include some of the Bard’s plays, and for the occasional theatergoer. The Practical Shakespeare is highly readable, informative, and thought-provoking."
Ronald Salomone, coeditor of Teaching Shakespeare into the Twenty-first Century
A comprehensive treatment of Shakespeare’s plays, The Practical Shakespeare: The Plays in Practice and on the Page illuminates for a general audience how and why the plays work so well.
Noting in detail the practical and physical limitations the Bard faced as he worked out the logistics of his plays, Colin Butler demonstrates how Shakespeare incorporated those limitations and turned them to his advantage: his management of entrances and exits; his characterization techniques; his handling of scenes off-stage; his control of audience responses; his organization of major scenes; and his use of prologues and choruses. A different aspect of the plays is covered in each chapter.
Butler draws most of his examples from mainstream plays, such as Macbeth, Othello, and Much Ado about Nothing. He brings special focus to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is treated as one of Shakespeare’s most important plays. Butler supports his major points with quotations, so readers can understand an issue even if they are unfamiliar with the particular play being discussed. The author also cross-references the use of dramatic devices in the plays, increasing the reader’s enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s achievements.
Clear, jargon-free, easy-to-use, and comprehensive, The Practical Shakespeare looks at stagecraft and playwriting as conduits for students, teachers, and general audiences to engage with, understand, and appreciate the genius of Shakespeare.
Colin Butler, for many years the head of the English department at a British grammar school, lives in Canterbury, England, where he writes on literary subjects.
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