by Abigail Rokison-Woodall

Published by Bloomsbury

Awarm welcome to the first three titles in a very useful series of new Shakespeare editions. If you need the finer points of editorial and academic debate Arden editions have long been the ones to turn to. But for actors and performers such editions can be cluttered and unfriendly. So now we have Arden Performance Editions which have the text on one side of the page (the left). Spare, but very useful notes on the right which tell you only the sorts of things a performer needs to know such has how to pronounce “Plautus” where the metre is changing and word or phrase meanings where a 21st century actor simply might not know that Shakespeare’s “hilding” means a worthless beast or that his “coil” is a quarrel.

These editions are likely to help not only actors and drama students but also all amateur Shakespeareans including schools and colleges which stage the plays. It will save a great deal of directorial time if the actor, at whatever level she or he is working, can sort out some of the detail in the lines independently and in advance without waiting to be lectured in the minutiae by the director in rehearsals. These editions will foster a grown-up approach to getting the plays on stage.

The first three titles are Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Macbeth, Othello, Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing are coming soon. And what genius to have Simon Russell Beale as a series editor along with two Shakespeare Institute academics, Michael Dobson and Abigail Rokison-Woodall. Russell Beale’s experience really will ensure that these editions are practical without any dumbing down or over-simplification.