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America’s longest running touring company




Summary of Curriculum Standards...........................2 About National Players .............................................3 Background: About William Shakespeare ................4 Background: Hearing Shakespeare ..........................4 Background: The Performance ................................5 Background: The Theatre .........................................5 Macbeth: Synopsis ...................................................6 Meet the Characters ................................................7 Shakespeare’s World: Sources .................................8 Shakespeare’s World: Witchcraft..............................8 Production History.....................................................9 National Players’ Production...................................10 Character Study: Lady Macbeth .............................11 Glossary ..................................................................12 Key Words and Names............................................13 Further reading........................................................14 Bibliography.............................................................15

The exercises and information in this study guide are geared towards fulfilling the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy for Grades 11-12. Writing • Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. • Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences. • Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. • Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. • Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. Speaking and Listening • Prepare and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. • Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives; synthesize comments, claims, and evidence made on all sides of an issue; resolve contradictions when possible; and determine what additional information or research is required to deepen the investigation or complete the task. • Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.

Getting the Most from this Guide Our study guides are designed with you and your classroom in mind, with information and activities that can be implemented in your curriculum. National Players has a strong belief in the relationship between actor and audience. Without either participant, there is no theatre. We hope this study guide will help bring a better understanding of the plot, themes, and characters in the play so that you can more fully enjoy Macbeth.Feel free to copy the study guide for students and other teachers and to use any essay, exercise, or discussion question as you see fit.




Now celebrating its 65th season, National Players is America’s longest-running touring company, and has earned a distinctive place in American theatre by bringing innovative and accessible productions to audiences across the country. Founded in 1949 by Father Gilbert Hartke, a prominent arts educator and Catholic priest, National Players has performed in theatres, gymnasiums, opera houses, and outdoor playing spaces all around the country. Hartke’s mission—to stimulate young people’s higher thinking skills and imaginations by presenting classic plays in surprisingly accessible ways—is as urgent and vital today as it was over 60 years ago. Since 1952, Olney Theatre Center has been the artistic home of National Players and has broadened its engagement to stimulate all learners, regardless of age, background, or location. Through the years, Players has been privileged to perform on 10 USO tours, at five White House visits, in the Arctic Circle, and throughout 42 states and territories. Having performed for over 2.8 million audience members,

Tour 2 2, 1950-51

National Players is proud to continue collaborating with audiences around the world today. Committed to excellence on and off the stage, over 700 artists have been proud Players, and continue to promote good work in New York, Hollywood, and other communities across the country.


National Players offers an exemplary lesson in collaboration and teamwork-in-action: the actors not only play multiple roles onstage, but also serve as stage managers, teaching artists, and technicians. This year, the Players consist of 10 actors, traveling across the country, visiting schools and art centers. A self-contained company, National Players carries its own sets, lights, costumes, and sound; that means that the actors you see rebuild the set and hang lights for more than 70 performances. They also memorize lines for three different plays—Macbeth, The Comedy of Errors and The Odyssey—often performing more than one a day. It is a lot of work, but the Players are dedicated to celebrating and teaching literature and performance to as many audiences as possible.

Tour 31, 1979-80

Above, you can see images from three National Player productions of Macbeth. In each restaging of the play, the director and actors bring something new, through costumes, setting, and more. What do you notice about the pictures above? What mood do they invoke? What

Tour 11, 1959-60



About William Shakespeare Despite being history’s most produced and studied English playwright, little is known of William Shakespeare’s life. One of six siblings, Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon on or about April 23, 1564. He married Anne Hathaway in 1582 and had three children. For the seven years after, Shakespeare fell off all record. Eventually, he arose in London and joined The Lord Chamberlain’s Men acting troupe. In 1603, when the troupe came into King James’ favor, they officially became The King’s Men. Shakespeare’s professional days are a mixture of fact and legend. In 1601, he and his business partners purchased property on the south bank of London’s Thames River, where they established The Globe Theatre. There, the acting company performed many of Shakespeare’s 37 plays. Famed for using the iambic pentameter writing style, Shakespeare’s works are deep in metaphor, illusion, and character; sometimes even taking precedence over plot. A diverse playwright, he began his career writing historical plays,

bawdy comedies, and the occasional tragedy. Later in life, his plays became more structurally complex, featuring his iconic Hamlet and Macbeth and the curious tragicomedies Cymbeline and The Tempest. William Shakespeare died on or about April 23rd, 1616, and is interred at a chapel in Stratford-upon-Avon.

A copper engraving of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout, published on the title page of the First Folio in 1623.

Hearing Shakespeare Sometimes Shakespeare’s language can be difficult to understand, but once you get it, it is really fun. Here are some tips to help you enjoy and appreciate the onstage action: • You do not have to understand every word in order to understand the play. Try to grasp the gist of what each character is saying. After a while, you won’t even have to think about it. • Watch body language, gestures, and facial expressions. Actors communicate what they are saying through their body. You can understand much of the play without hearing a word.

• Although he uses prose as well, Shakespeare often uses verse in his plays, a form called iambic pentameter. This rhythm, which uses stressed and unstressed syllables, makes it easier to both understand and to learn Shakespeare. The rhythm guides the ear to the important parts of each phrase. • The plays aren’t meant to scare or confuse you. Shakespeare wrote to entertain, and he was pretty good at it (he was one of the most popular playwrights of his time, after all).Even his tragedies have comedic moments, so feel free to laugh and react to the actors’ jokes and antics.

Most early modern playwrights did not publish their work, but 18 of Shakespeare’s plays were printed before he died. Luckily, his plays survived because friends and colleagues commemorated his life in a publication known as the First Folio. A century after his death, questions began to arise; his birthdate, deathdate, and even the spelling of his name are in question. No definitive portrait exists of the man, and no government record lists his theatric profession. Many scholars have questioned the ability of a minimally educated man to create such challenging writing. Some theorists have long held that “Shakespeare” was a nom de plume for another playwright, nobleman, or even collection of writers. However, the vast majority of scholars believe that unofficial documentation provides proof of Shakespeare’s existence and prolific abilities. Regardless, Shakespeare’s plays have been translated to 118 languages and are now in constant production around the world.

Words, Words, Words Shakespeare coined more than 1,700 words, many of which we still use today. Here are some of his most famous:

• Compromise • Cold-blooded • Puking • Eyeball • Blanket • Torture • Bloodstained • Amazement • Deafening • Elbow


The Performance


During Shakespeare’s day, new The Globe Theatre was a circular wooden structure constructed plays were written and performed of three stories of galleries (seats) continuously. A company of actors surrounding an open courtyard. might receive a new play, prepare It was an open-air building, and it, and perform it every week. a rectangular platform projected Because of this, each actor in into the middle of the courtyard the company had a specific type served as a stage. The perforof role that he normally played mance space had no front curtain, and could perform with little rebut was backed by a large wall with hearsal. This role was known as a one to three doors out of which stock character. Such characters actors entered and exited. In front might include romantic lovers, of the wall stood a roofed housetragic soldiers, fools and clowns, like structure supported by two and women characters. Because large pillars, designed to provide a women were not allowed to perplace for actors to “hide” when not form on the stage at the time, in a scene. The roof of this strucyoung boys whose voices had yet ture was referred to as the “Heavto change played the female charens” and could be used for actor acters in the shows. entrances. Other than a few pieces of The theatre itself housed up to stock scenery, like forest and 3,000 spectators, mainly because palace backdrops, set pieces Although there are no surviving illus- a great number had to stand. were very minimal. There was trations of the original Globe Theatre, The seats in the galleries were no artificial lighting to convey historians think it looked something reserved for people from the uplike the Rose Theatre. The Rose was per classes who primarily came time and place, so it was up to right down the road from the Globe, to the theatre to be prominently audience to imagine what the and some of Shakespeare’s early plays full scene would look like. Beseen. Sometimes, wealthy patrons were performed there. cause of this, the playwright was were even allowed to sit on or forced to describe the setting in above the stage itself. These seats, greater detail than would normally Did You Know? known as the “Lord’s Rooms,” were conbe heard today. For example, in order sidered the best in the house despite to establish weather in one scene in The original Globe Theatre the poor view of the back of the actors. Macbeth, Macbeth says, “So foul and burned down in 1613 during a The lower-class spectators stood in the fair a day I have not seen,” referencing performance of Henry VIII when open courtyard and watched the play a prop cannon caught fire, forcthe stormy evening. on their feet. These audience meming 3,000 visitors to scurry outThe costumes of this period, by bers became known as groundlings and side for safety. Miraculously, gained admission to the playhouse for contrast, were far from minimal. Rich everyone survived. According prices as low as one penny. The groundand luxurious, Elizabethan costumes to an eyewitness account by Sir lings were often very loud and ramwere a source of great pride for the Henry Wotton, the only serious bunctious during the performances and performers who personally provided recorded injury was sustained them. However, they were rarely his- by a poor fellow “breeches set would eat, drink, shout at the actors, torically accurate, which again forced on fire, that would perhaps have and socialize during the performance. the audience to use their imaginations broyled him, if he had not...put Playwrights were therefore forced to into envision the play’s time and place. it out with a bottle of ale” (Per- corporate lots of action and bawdy humor in their plays in order to keep the cy, Timbs 195). audience’s attention.



The strict penalty for any Syrcusian who enters the city of Ephesus is execution. Egeon, a Syrcusian merchant, has breached the city in search of his longlost wife and sun. Facing certain death, he welcomes his fate: “Proceed, Solinus, to procure my fall, and by the doom of death end woes and all”...

He explains that his twin sons, both named Antipholus, and their twin slaves, both named Dromio, were separated during a storm many years ago. He saved one Antipholus and Dromio, but their brothers and his wife were lost at sea. The Duke of Ephesus pities Egeon, but insists he cannot bend the law; instead, he gives the Syracusian one day to raise his own ransom money and purchase his freedom. Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse, raised by Egeon, also arrive in Ephesus, looking for their shipwrecked twin brothers. Shortly after Antipholus sends Dromio to make a reservation at an inn, Dromio of Ephesus meets Antipholus of Syracuse. Confusing him for the other twin, Dromio bids him to come to dinner. Antipholus of Syracuse is at first astounded, then angered, and beats Dromio of Ephesus for his foolishness. Dromio of Ephesus, nursing his wounds, returns to Antipholus of Ephesus’s house and recounts to Adriana, Antipholus’ wife, and Luciana, her sister, his odd encounter with the man he thought was his master. Adriana leaves to fetch her husband and manages to convince Antipholus of Syracuse that he is her husband. Confused and intrigued, Antipholus joins the women for dinner. As Antipholus of Syracuse dines with his brother’s wife,

Antipholus of Ephesus arrives at his house with Dromio of Ephesus and his guests Angelo and Balthazar. Adriana, who believes her husband is already inside, bars Antipholus of Ephesus and his guests from entering the house. Furious, Antipholus of Ephesus invites his guests to dine at the house of a courtesan. To further spite his wife, he sends Angelo to fetch an ornate necklace, which he decides to give to the courtesan instead of his wife. Antipholus of Syracuse declares his love for Luciana. She is outraged and chides the man she believes to be her brother-in-law for betraying Adriana. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant flee, determined to leave Ephesus and avoid any more bizarre happenings.  He then encounters Angelo, who gives him the necklace, thinking he is Antipholus of Ephesus. Angelo promises to return to Antipholus of Ephesus’s home later to collect payThis is costume designment (which er Pei Lee’s rendering of he needs to pay off his the Antipholus twins’ cosown debts tume. Consider: to another 1. What do you imagine m e r c hant). the Dromios looking like? A n t i p holus The Duke? The Courtesan? of Syracuse 2. One of the challenges is now even for a costume designer more eager to with this play is differenleave the city. tiating between the two Later, Angelo sets of twins. How might requests his costume details help with payment from this distinction? Antipholus of Ephesus, who insists (truthfully) that he never re- ceived the necklace. He refuses to pay Angelo, so Angelo has Antipholus of Ephesus arrested. Antipholus sends Dromio of Syracuse to Adriana to collect bail money. Adriana is quick to give Dromio of Syracuse the money but on his way to save Antipholus of Ephesus, Dromio runs into his real master and I surprised to find him free. Antipholus of Syraucse has no idea why his servant has a bag of money. The courtesan arrives to demand either the ring Antipholus of Ephesus took from her at dinner or the neck- lace. Antipholus and Dromio believe she is a witch and flee. Meanwhile, Adriana and Luciana employ Doctor Pinch



Just like Shakespeare’s players, the National Players have to play multiple roles. The text calls for more than 25 characters, so in addition to each actor playing multiple roles, some characters were combined. Use this chart to keep track of who’s who and how they relate to each other.




Duke Jacob Mundell Angelo—Goldsmith Alexander Korman

Long-lost spouse

Egeon—Merchant Christopher Richardson

Abbess/Emilia Leah Filley Balthazar Jacob Mundell

Spouse Long-lost twin brother

Antipholus of Syracuse Danny Cackley

Antipholus of Ephesus Drew Feldman

nt va r e




Sis te r

a erv

Adriana Eliza Rose

Dromio of Ephesus Adam Turck

Luciana Theresa Bucchler

Courtesan Leah Filley

Long-lost twin brother

Dromio of Syracuse Antonia

Dr. Pinch Jacob Mundell



Shakespeare’s Influences Few of Shakespeare’s plays were completely original. He drew on various sources as inspiration for his stories, including classic literature and historical tales. The blueprint for The Comedy of Errors was derived from two classic plays, both written by the Roman playwright Plautus. Menaechmi, Plautus’ most renowned comedy, follows the farcical plight of twin brothers Menaechmus of Epidamnus and Menaechmus of Syracuse. The Dromios’ subplot was borrowed from Plautus’ tragicomedy Amphitryon, which includes twin servants with the same name.

Along with the templates for his plot, Shakespeare used comedic conventions from Plautus’ work. Plautus’ plays were staged between 205 and 184 BCE, making them the earliest works of Latin literature that survive today. Plautus, in turn, borrowed the plots and structure of his plays from ancient Greek comedies, adhering to the unities of time, place, and action set forth by the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Taking his cue from Plautus, Shakespeare also adheres to Aristotle’s unities and includes classical stock characters, slapstick humor, and violence.

Stock Characters One of the conventions Shakespeare adapted from Plautus’ work was his extensive use of stock characters. The Comic Slave: One of the most iconic Roman stock characters, the Comic Slave is usually a central character in Plautus’ plays. Resourseful and cunning, he is loyal to his master (usually the Young Lover) but primarilly motivated with earning his freedom. The Young Lover: Blinded by his love, this character is foolish and The Domineering Wife: Smarter than her husband, this character is violently suspiscious of her spouse (often for good reason). Parasite: This character’s name derives from his tendency to leech off of the play’s main characters. Instead of sucking their blood, however, he cleans their tables. He spends most of the play asking characters for food in

exchange for entertainment and company. The Comic/Evil Courtesan: Clever, deceptive and beautiful, the Courtesan often manipulates those around her to win the heart of the Young Lover. The Old Man: Often the father of the Young Lover, the Old Man serves as an authority figure who imparts wisdom upon others and adheres to traditional values. The Quack Doctor Consider: 1. What are some modern versions of stock characters? Idenfity a contemporary example of one of these stock characters, from TV, film or literature. How does this character How are these characters utilized in TV, film and literature today? 2. Identify the above stock characters in The Comedy of Errors. How do they differ from Plautus’

Aristotle Early in his writing, Shakespeare relied heavily on traditional forms of drama while exploring his ability to push beyond their limitations. The Comedy of Errors, one of his earliest plays, was influenced by the doctrine of the Greek philosopher Aristitole. Born in 384 BCE, Aristotle was a prolific writer and thinker, whose interests covered everything from science and politics to art and drama. In Poetics, his discount on dramatic theory, he asserts that drama should follow three rules, which came to be known as the classical unities: The unity of action: a play should have one main action that it follows, with no or few subplots. The unity of place: a play should cover a single physical space and should not attempt to compress geography, nor should the stage represent more than one place. The unity of time: the action in a play should take place over no more than 24 hours. Although many playwrights formatted their work around Aristotle’s rules, only two of Shakespeare’s plays—The Comedy of Errors and The Tempest—follow these unities. Consider: 1. How does The Comedy of Errors adhere to these classical unities? In what ways does it divert from these? 2. How do these unities contribute to th e play as whole? How do they make the story more or less realistic? How do they contribute comedicaly? 3. What other stories can you think of that adhere to Aristotle’s unities? These can be plays, books, fairy tales, or movies. What effect do the unities have on the story?



Farce Within the formal structure of Roman comedy, Shakespeare experimented with different types of comedy, including forms of high comedy, which appeals to an intellectual sense of humor, and low comedy, which relies on slapstick and physical gags. Although it contains elements of various comedic genres, The Comedy of Errors is most commonly

categorized as a farce, a form of low comedy. Farcical comedy includes highly improbably situations, exaggerated characters, and slapstick elements. Rather than focus on character development, a farce focuses on one skillfully exploited situation to drive the story. Farce relies heavily on physical comedy and violence to evoke humor.

This is costume designer Pei Lee’s rendering of the Antipholus twins’ costume. Consider: 1. What do you imagine the Dromios looking like?

Elements of Comedy

The Comedy of Errors contains many farcical elements—violence, slapstick, mistake identity— but characteristics of other comedic genres resonate in the play as well. Some of the most common Dramatic irony: The spectator is aware of information that at least one character in the story is unaware of. Satire Romantic Comedy Wordplay/puns

1. Identify your favorite comedic story; it may be a book, TV show, film, or real event. Make a list of what makes that specific story funny. What elements How is The Comedy of Errors a farce? What characters and plot points are particularly farcical?




National Players’ production of The Comedy of Errors is heavily influenced by the American vaudeville movement of the 1880s through the 1920s. A form of variety entertainment, a vaudeville act consisted of multiple, unrelated acts, which might include dance, music, comedy sketches, magic, acrobatics, and more. The development of vaudeville marked the beginning of popular entertainment as a reputable business, dependent on the organizational efforts of white-collar workers. The vaudeville circuit was also emblematic of a shifting, diversified audience. An increasing number of Americans had the leisure time and spending power to enjoy live entertainment, and in turn, vaudevillians needed to appeal to a broader audience. The National Players’ interpretation reimagines Shakespeare’s comedy as a traveling variety show, much like audiences might have seen in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Using props, scenery and costumes from their trunks, The performance is metatheatrical—the characters are aware that they are performing for an audience—and the players break out into variety sketches between scenes. Inspired by the slapstick of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, National Players has stripped down this production of The Comedy of Errors and plays on something. Shakespeare’s story of mistaken identity invites Be


THEMES Identity

Status Great chain of being




Below are some of the more challenging words in Shakespeare’s vocabulary. Knowing what they mean will help you follow the plot more easily.

Shakespeare’s Word A mere anatomy Aspect Become disloyalty Beads Bereft Beshrew Bespoke Choleric Circe Coil Cozenage Cuckold Disannual Excrement Fallacy Flout Guilders [By] inspiration Maw Niggard [A husband’s] office Pate [Common] rout Sconce Sirrah Strumpet Wherefore

Meaning Skeleton

Attitude shown on the face Make disloyalty seem becoming

Rosary Lacking Curse Talked about Irritable, prone to anger Sorceress of Greek mythology Fuss Cheating, deception Husband whose wife has cheated on him, symbolized by horns on his head To cancel That which grows out of the body, such as hair Mistake, illusion To mock or make a fool of Money Through magical means Stomach Stingy person The duty of husband to wife

Head Crowd Small fort or protective screen A term used for addressing inferiors Woman of low morals Why

Thou and You

Because “thee” and “thou” are so antiquated today, they sound more formal to the modern ear. However in Shakespeare’s day, it was quite the opposite. “Thou” and “thee” indicated a special intimacy, used for addressing God, among close friends and relations, or with the lower class. “You,” on the other hand, was more formal. It was used to address superiors—children to parents, servants to masters, people of the upper class. These two forms of address were social indicators of respect and status. Using “thou” inappropriately would have been a serious breach of social standards. Shakespeare took advantage of these words’ connotations in his plays to establish character and class. When a form of address shifts in dialogue, therefore, it conveys a contrast in meaning— an altered attitude or relationship. Listen for how characters use these two forms of address, and consider: 1. What does a character’s choice in words say about his or her status? What does it indicate about the relationship between two characters? 3. Read the dialogue between the Duke and Egeon in Act I, scene i: Duke: Therefore by law thou art condemned to die.” Egeon: Yet this my comfort: when your words are done, My woes end likewise with the evening sun. What does this indicate to you about relationships and mood? What do the characters’ titles of “thou” and “you” imply here?



Adaptation: To modify from one version to another. In the case of literature, books and plays are often adapted into other forms of media, including TV and film. Allegory: The representation of abstract ideas by characters, figures or events in a narrative form. Burbage, Richard (1567-1619): A prolific modern English actor and member of The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later the King’s Men. He played many of Shakespeare’s title roles, including Richard III, Hamlet, Othello and Macbeth. Costumes: Anything actors wear--pants, skirts, shirts, accessories--that dilineate character. Costumes in early modern England were elaborate and helped indicate status, gender and relationships. Davenant, William (1606-1668): A major theatrical figure and writer in the English Renaissance. He altered the text of Macbeth significantly, eliminating the Porter and various scenes, emphasizing Lady Macduff’s character, and inserting song and dance numbers for the witches. His version of the play dominated the English stage for almost a century. Divine Right of Kings: A political and religious doctrine that asserts that a monarch derives the right to rule directly from the will of God. Any attempt to usurp a monarch’s power is a sin against God. Foil: A character who contrasts with another in a significant way. By providing a significant and overt contrast with another character, an author can use a foil to demonstrate or emphasize certain qualities or characteristics. Garrick, David (1717-1779): A prominent English actor, playwright, manager and producer. In his 1744 revival of Macbeth, he mostly used Shakespeare’s original text. His performance of Macbeth was widely acclaimed. Gender roles: Social and behavioral expectations used to define gender. Globe Theatre: Built by Shakespeare’s company in 1599 and rebuilt after a fire in 1619, one of the most popular early modern theaters in London. Great Chain of Being: A belief that God has an ordered system for nature and humankind. Attempting to change one’s station is an offense against God. Groundlings: Frequenters of the Globe Theatre who paid one penny to stand in the pit before the stage. Seats were reserved for higher-paying audience members. Gunpowder Plot: A 1605 conspiracy against King James I, considered one of the first acts of modern state terrorism. After their plot to blow up the houses of Parliament and assasinate the King was discovered, all 13 conspirators were tried and executed. Holinshed’s Historie of Scotland: Part of Raphael Holinsheds Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, published in the 16th century. Shakespeare used the documented histories as the basis for most of his history plays, as well as King Lear, Cymbeline and Macbeth. Iambic Pentameter: A metrical line used in traditional verse. The rhythm has ten syllables per line, alternating between unstressed and stressed syllables. It sounds something like this: de-DUM de-DUM de-DUM de-DUM de-DUM. For example: “good THINGS of DAY beGIN to DROOP and DROWSE.” King’s Men: The name Shakespeare’s acting company selected after King James I was crowned in 1603. Lord Chamberlain’s Men: Shakespeare’s acting company, which worked at the Globe Theatre in London. Non de plum: A pseudonym adopted by an author. Prose: Natural flow of speech. Siddons, Sarah (1755-1831): A Welsh actress, best known for her tragic roles. She was the first woman to popularize Lady Macbeth with her chilling, naunced performance. Stock character: A specific type of role that frequently appears in plays. Examples from Shakespeare’s day include fools and clowns, romantic lovers, tragic soldiers, and women. Stock scenery: Generic set pieces used for to indicate place. These might include backdrops and basic furniture, and might represent anything from a forest to a grand palance. Stratford-upon-Avon: William Shakespeare’s birthplace, located in south Warwickshire, England. Theme: The central topic or idea of a text. Essentially, “what the work is about.” Verse: Poetic composition. Often used in early modern plays. Compare with prose. Witch Hunts: The persecution of people suspected of witchcraft and devil-worship.



Reading Companions

• Garber, Marjorie. Shakespeare After All. A unique guide through all of Shakespeare’s plays, this is an accessible and comprehensive text for both beginners and scholars. • Greenblatt, Stephen. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. A descriptive, engaging biography of William Shakespeare, Greenblatt includes information on Elizabethan life and culture, entertaining anecdotes, and clever storytelling to paint an entertaining and education picture of the playwright’s life. • Holzknecht, Karl J. and Ross, Raymond. Outlines of Shakespeare’s Plays Act-by-act synopses of each play with helpful character descriptions and relationship information, this collection also includes relevant background material. • Kott, Jan. Shakespeare our Contemporary. One of the most influential Shakespeare criticism works of all time, Kott’s selection of essays includes insightful, provocative analyses on all of Shakespeare’s plays. • Sarrazin, George and Scmidt, Alexander. Shakespeare Lexicon and Quotation Dictionary: A Complete Dictionary of All the English Words, Phrases, and Constructions in the Works of the Poet, Vol. 1 (and Vol. 2). A comprehensive collection of definitions, phrases, terms, and locations, as well as more than 50,000 exact quotations. • Van Doren, Mark. Shakespeare A selection of perceptive, entertaining essays on Shakespeare’s plays and poems by one of the world’s most renowned Shakespeare experts. • Wells, Stanley. Shakespeare: A Life in Drama. Along with a concise biography of the playwright, Wells provides an intriguing portrayal of Shakespeare’s character. • The Riverside Shakespeare by William Shakespeare et al. Houghton Mifflin; 2nd edition; 1997. One of the most trusted Shakespeare companions, this collection of the playwrights work includes extensive footnotes and relevant background material.

Online Resources

• and The complete texts of Shakespeare’s plays (for free viewing) as well as many links to study resources. • An excellent repository of information on Shakespeare and it is updated frequently. • Another large repository of Shakespearean information and information on Elizabethan England • A website dedicated to the proposition that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. • The website of the Folger Shakespeare Library. • A website maintained by Shakespeare’s Globe in London with links to resources, archives, and information about the Globe’s current season. • An annotated list of scholarly resources available on the internet.



Thou and You

This study guide was compiled and edited by Maegan Clearwood, Olney Theatre Center Dramaturgy Apprentice, 2013

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