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One small step for a web-site – one giant leap for Shakespeare-online!

Last week, along with a few million others around the globe, we thought we’d mark Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary. Amongst the other things we did (see Keep Celebrating Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary), we thought it might be fun to produce a way of casting a Shakespeare play so that it could be performed on stage, We managed to produce a casting of  our online, interactive,  As You Like It for 11 players which does just that.

Now, as you may know, we’ve been a web-site that’s fixated on play-reading Shakespeare’s plays, rather than performing them, so we didn’t think too much about our ‘performable casting’ for As You Like It.

But this week, I’ve been busy preparing castings of Macbeth for a play-reading on Sunday 8th May, so I thought I’d try and produce more castings which can, of course, be play-read, but can also be performed on stage.

(The trick, dear reader, is not to have a player on stage in a scene in more than one role. Or if the player is onstage in two roles, that they’re not onstage at the same time, and there’s enough time offstage for a quick costume change. That’s why As You Like It had to be 11. The four couples are onstage for the final wedding scene, + Duke Senior, Jaques, Hymen. Even this may lead to some very quick costume changes.)

With Macbeth, I had a bit more time – less celebrations – and some experience, and so 2 of the 4 play-castings are ‘performable’. But I also have a book of the original Elizabethan / Jacobean castings of the play, and so I’ve  published that as a casting of 28 (minor actors barely got paid in Elizabethan / Jacobean productions). The three most useful play-reading castings (8 – 10 players) are on the sidebar to the right of this article, and two of them are performable. There’s also a link to the page which shows the ‘Original’ casting. As well as all that, there’s five cracking scenes from the play to play-read for 2 – 7 players. Tempted? – why don’t you try out some of the links on the sidebar.

And then, all our online, interactive plays allow you to select an individual character and see just that part. So by using the techniques described in Let’s Play Hamlet (setting up your own Let’s Play) , you can create pretty much any casting you like, as long as you don’t change the allocation of lines to characters, or change the text.

So now we have two plays, As You Like It and Macbeth,  which have play-reading and performable castings, and the ‘Original’ casting, which is also, of course, performable. Over the summer, in the ‘quiet’ season, we’ll be producing performable and Original castings for a further 10 plays (we hope).

Of course, it may be some time before you see actors at The Globe rehearsing with Apple Mini iPads or smartphones in hand. They’re a conservative bunch, and they like to make notes on their paper scripts. But actually, that’s not a problem – we can produce pdfs or MS-Word documents of our scripts. And if you’ve got an MS-Word version of a script you can edit it, as many production companies / directors like to do, and come up with your own performance script.

So, quite by magic, we’ve changed from being a play-reading web-site to producing scripts for any use (online and offline). We already have a school in Australia using our play-reading casting of As You Like It to explore the play for a group of 8 students. They’re then going on to perform the play with the addition of a couple of players. A book-club in the North of England is starting to explore Shakespeare play-readings along the lines of the play-readings we run in Edinburgh. Home schoolers in the USA, in New Zealand, and the UK are beginning to explore how they can use our scene casting to explore Shakespeare – we plan to have 12 of the plays ready for their use at the start of the next academic year in September.

We hope you’ll look and see if you can use our scripts to play Shakespeare – so much more fun than studying him. And if your needs aren’t met, then let me know (rforsyth@live.co.uk) and we’ll see how we can help meet your need.

Let’s Play!

‘The Director’,
Players-Shakespeare.com
rforsyth@live.co.uk

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2 Responses to "One small step for a web-site – one giant leap for Shakespeare-online!"

  • Eleanor Forman
    June 23, 2016 - 1:05 am Reply

    Could I please have your input on casting (doubling/tripling/etc.) for a play reading of OTHELLO for 4 women and 4 men? The women will be doing men’s roles as well, of course. Any suggestions for winging it to redistribute parts due to last-minute dropouts? I also invite you to come see us on Saturday, if any of you are in the Manhattan area!

  • Richard Forsyth
    July 15, 2016 - 9:29 am Reply

    Hi Eleanor,

    I’m very sorry to take so long to replay. I’ve been ill.

    I hope it’s not too late to respond.

    We have a casting of Othello for 8 people, which you can find at:
    https://players-shakespeare.com/mffe-version-5-othello-online/?page=s|A1S1.html%3Ff

    It’s on the sidebar to the right of the script, under CastList for 8.
    Your 8 players should each click on one of the characters, which will give them a script ‘tailored’ for their roles.

    I’ll also email you a copy of a spreadsheet which shows which players read which characters in which scenes.

    I do hope this is in time for your play-reading. If not, I do hope you’ll try one of our plays with your play-reading group in the near future.

    Best wishes, and enjoy your play-reading(s)

    Richard Forsyth

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