“Shakespeare is his text, and the way he uses it is just that. So if you want to do him justice you have to look for and follow the clues the clues he offers. If an actor does that, he’ll find that Shakespeare himself starts to direct him”. ~ John Barton
Of all the quotes about Shakespeare I have collected over the years, this is my favorite. With these few sentences, he sums up everything that makes Shakespeare special - 99% of the work is already done for you. All you need to do is open yourself up to being directed by the text.
How do we accomplish that? Simple. First Folio. The First Folio is where, for the first time all of Shakespeare’s plays were compiled. Seven years after his death, two members of the King’s Men, Shakespeare’s acting company, collected his plays and compiled them together for the first time. As a Folio enthusiast, I like to think that this is the closest version to what Shakespeare originally wrote.
First Folio is, as I like to say, acting shorthand. How it is structured, written and punctuated are the clues that John Barton was talking about. It all matters, and deserves to be explored. In Shakespeare’s time, they didn’t have six weeks of rehearsal, with time for text analysis. Actor’s learned