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CAIRO BOOKS's Description
A truly groundbreaking collaboration of original theatre history with exciting
literary criticism, Shakespeare in Parts is the first book fully to explore the
original form in which Shakespeare's drama overwhelmingly circulated. This was
not the full play-text; it was not the public performance. It was the actor's
part, consisting of the bare cues and speeches of each individual role. With
group rehearsals rare or non-existent, the cued part alone had to furnish the
actor with his character. But each such part-text was riddled with gaps and
uncertainties. The actor knew what he was going to say, but not necessarily
when, or why, or to whom; he may have known next to nothing of any other part.
It demanded the most sensitive attention to the opportunities inscribed in the
script, and to the ongoing dramatic moment. Here is where the young actor
Shakespeare learnt his trade; here is where his imagination, verbal and
technical, learnt to roam.
This is the story of Shakespeare in Parts. As Shakespeare developed his
playwriting, the apparent limitations of the medium get transformed into
expressive opportunities. Both cue and speech become promise-crammed
repositories of meaning and movement, and of individually discoverable space
and time. Writing always for the same core group of players, Shakespeare could
take - and insist upon - unprecedented risks. The result is onstage drama of
Starting with a comprehensive history of the part in early modern theatre,
Simon Palfrey and Tiffany Stern's mould-altering work of historical and
imaginative recovery provides a unique keyhole onto hitherto forgotten
practices and techniques. It not only discovers a newly active, choice-ridden
actor, but a new Shakespeare.