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How we help you playread Shakespeare

This web-site is designed to help people explore Shakespeare by exploring Shakespeare’s characters, playing scenes from his plays, playreading compelte plays, and our scripts can also be used  for productions. (See our objectives at: What Players-Shakespeare.com does).

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In June / July ’17  the number of people who have expressed interest in play-reading Shakespeare grew rapidly and has now reached over 1,000 (by liking our FB page, or becoming FB friends).  This shows that there is sufficient interest to start a number of play-reading groups in the USA, the UK and elsewhere, and we plan to establish a core set of such play-reading groups by September ’17.

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The key to establishing new play-reading groups is to encourage people  to take on the task of organizing them.  We hope this post will encourage some of you to think about setting up your own Shakespeare play-reading group, using the features of our web-site we explore below, and the help and support we offer.  If you are interested, join our Facebook page, where we have a growing community of play-readers and offer support to  them there.

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To encourage you to take on that task, we offer the following help for  you to do all the following things. This help is free:

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Provide Shakespeare’s plays in an edition for ‘playing’ online.

We are in the process of publishing all of Shakespeare’s plays, as published in the First Folio. You’ll find a list of  all the plays we’ve published on our Home Page.  Click on the title of any of the plays high lit in blue, and you’ll be taken to the script and index for that play.

Each play has been converted to a format which supports the features you need to play read that play. These special features are outlined below:

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Provide cast lists which allow a few people (usually 2 – 12) to play read Shakespeare’s plays

A Shakespeare play may have around 30 speaking parts. A play reading group usually has somewhere between 6 and 12 members. How do we allocate characters to play readers?

We can analyse the play to see which characters speak in which scenes and who they interact with. From this, we can build cast lists which allow a small number of people to playread a Shakespeare play. It’s obviously important to minimize the number of times a player is speaking to themselves in different roles, and it’s also important to make each player’s lines as equal in size as possible. This is what our cast lists do. We usually provide cast lists for 6 to 12 players for each play, plus the original cast list used by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men / The King’s Players (taken from Casting Shakespeare’s Plays, by T.J. King).

You can see the cast lists for Romeo and Juliet, for example, by clicking on that link. A new tab will open up showing the script of that play, and, on a laptop or tablet you’ll see an index to the play. (On a smartphone, the index comes after the script). In the index you’ll see a ’round-robin’ cast list for 2 – 5 players, and then cast lists for 6 to 9 players. Click on one of the cast lists for 6 – 9 players, and the script will be replaced by a page showing the characters allocated to each player.

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Allow the play script to be seen in a number of forms (Parts and Cues; Highlight Text; Standard Script)

Each player may choose to see their script in one of three formats:

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Parts and Cues format: This is how a member of Shakespeare’s theatrical group received their script. They only got their lines and the last three words of the previous speech – the cue. As there was very little rehearsal time, that was all the player had to work on to create his character.To see an example of Parts and Cues, click on  Mcbeth-A5S1, Lady Macbeth sleep-walking scene: Parts and Cues.

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Highlight Text format: Many actors, when they receive the script for a play they’re about to play, highlight their lines with a highlighter pen, to make it easy to see them. To see an example of  Highlight Script click on Mcbeth-A5S1, Lady Macbeth sleep-walking scene: Highlight Text:

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Standard Script: And finally, you can see the script in the same format as you’ll see in any printed book of Shakespeare’s plays – black text on a white background. To see an example of Standard Script, click on  Mcbeth-A5S1, Lady Macbeth sleep-walking scene: Standard Script.

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Allow you to  explore Shakespeare’s characters & scripts in monologues (Let’s Explore)  & scenes (Let’s Play)

When you’re preparing for a play-reading (or production), it is sometimes helpful to read key scenes or monologues on their own. With each play, we provide Let’s Explore monologues and Let’s Play scenes, which let you do just this.

To see examples of these, click on the link for Hamlet. On the new tab that opens up, you’ll see the script for A1S1 of Hamlet , and in the Index, below the cast lists, a section for Let’s Explore (Hamlet – the character; Gertrude – the queen; Polonius: State councillor – and father; Ophelia – Polonius’ daughter and Hamlet’s girlfriend) and a section for Let’s Play (A2S1: How Polonius treats his children (3 players); A3S4: Hamlet accuses his mother (3 players); A3S1: Hamlet and Ophelia fight (4 players)). Click on any of the links in those sections and you’ll be taken to a page which allows you to set up each player in a monologue or scene to play it.

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Allow directors & drama teachers to create Let’s Explore and Let’s Play items for use in your group

If you’re running a play-reading, or using our script to teach a drama class, or directing a production of a play using our script, you may want to have new Let’s Explore items, or Let’s Play items which we haven’t provided. Well you can set them up yourselves. We show you how in the following post:  Setting up your own “Let’s Play” 

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Let you watch ‘Video Readings’ or full productions on your PC  or TV

Play-reading in a group requires the players to speak their lines out loud, and it’s helpful to read monologues and scenes out loud as well, so we encourage everyone to do that. We  (the Edinburgh Shakespeare play-reading group) play scenes out loud and record them, and make them available for you to listen too whilst reading the script. You can see them at:
Video Readings
Click on any of the pictures on that page to see / hear a video reading on YouTube.
On each play index, you’ll also find Index entries of the Video  Readings we provide for that play

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Again, in the play index, you’ll find reviews of productions of  that play which you can watch at home, either by streaming or by playing a DVD. Those reviews are also available from the menu notably, from the following links:
Great shows to watch at home
The Globe player reviews

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Provide Help Videos, etc, which show you how to use our features

There’s a lot of different things you can do on our web-site, and it’s sometimes difficult to remember or find out how to do everything, and so we provide Help Videos and posts to help you.  Perhaps the most important of these Help posts is:

How to get started running Shakespeare play-readings

but there are other useful posts:

Help with this web-site, and
Help with playing Shakespeare

There are a few posts which will also help you to get up to speed with how to use our web -site:
How to get started running a Shakespeare play-reading 
The innovative tools we offer to explore a Shakespeare play
Get started play-reading with Mcbeth (Macbeth is the play we will play-read in September ’17)

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Allow you to read play-reading reports of our play-readings in Edinburgh (and others from around the world)

We’ve been play-reading Shakespeare plays here in Edinburgh for the last three years, and every time we read a play, we publish a play-reading report on how it went.  You can see a typical play-reading report at:
Playreading Report: Twelfth Night, Edinburgh ; 7th May, ’17

or you can browse through all our, and other play-reading reports at:
Playreading Home Page 

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Allow you to write-up your play-reading reports for others to read.

When you start play-reading, you too can write and publish play-reading reports.  Just fill in the form that you’ll find at:
Add a Play-reading Report
and submit it by pressing the ‘Submit’ button at the bottom of the form, and we will, provided it meets our editorial standards (no foul or abusive content, and of interest to our readers), publish it on our web-site.

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Facebook for support.

I hope by now you can see that we offer a pretty comprehensive set of features to let you and a group from 2 to 12 friends, play read a Shakespeare play. There are 8 plays for you to choose from now, and we plan to publish approximately 8 from September ’17 through May ’18, so there’s plenty plays available for a monthly play-reading.

In addition to the features and help we’ve outlined above, we have  a Facebook page on which we publish details of our latest posts on the web-site. It is also increasingly the place where you can get help from us, or from other members of the Facebook page, with any problems you may have with your play-readings.

If you are at all interested in Shakespeare play-reading, “Like” or “Follow” our FB page at: Players-Shakespeare.com Facebook Page

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We know from analysis of traffic on our web-site from April ’17 until July 10th, that there are well over 100 of the users of our web-site who are, what Google Analytics call, ‘Really Engaged Users’ mostly in the US and UK. We think that some of you will be interested in running Shakespeare play-readings. If you are one of them,  “Like” or “Follow” our FB page at: Players-Shakespeare.com Facebook Page, and get in contact by leaving  a ‘Reply’ on one of our FB posts, or by sending me a message on FB Messenger, so we can help you establish a Shakespeare play-reading group, and have an amazing time reading his plays with some of your friends.

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Let’s Play

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Richard Forsyth
‘The Director’
Players-Shakespeare.com

To find out what Players-Shakespeare.com is all about, check out What we do.
If you want to know how our Shakespeare edition is developing,  ‘like’ our Facebook page, and you’ll get more detailed updates on Facebook on what’s happening.

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