Acting in Shakespeare

This newly revised and expanded second edition of Cohen’s distinguished work on Shakespearean acting (2005) is available in an inexpensive paperback with Smith and Kraus.

Review Excerpts

“Cohen’s analyses… are perceptive and well articulated… [showing] actors that [Shakespearean] language is not merely decorative, but something that grows out of a psychological urgency… . By book’s end students can reasonably be expected to be comfortable and confident with Shakespeare’s demands.

“And while there is a wealth of critical insight into the plays and their characters, Cohen is as generous with hints about purely technical matters too often foreign to naturalistic actors… . While the bulk of the book focuses on voice in the theatre, Cohen is acutely aware that Shakespeare’s plays are also intensely physical works… [and his] chapter on physicalizing Shakespeare contains a number of stimulating exercises (Cohen’s strength as an acting teacher).

“I can’t imagine a group of students not being enthralled by Cohen’s ingenious concept. …Acting in Shakespeare is so readily accessible and full of such “do-able” exercises that it should be a staple of period style classes for years to come.” —Theatre Journal

“…practical instructions for dramatizing Shakespeare’s scripts for a contemporary audience… how to decipher unfamiliar Shakespearean words and expressions, how to analyze and illuminate character, and, ultimately, how to convey the characters’ emotions to the audience so that a bonding occurs, one which enables the actor and audience to experience mutual illumination and identification.

“…Cohen’s clear and thoughtful exegesis is much more than a practical step-by-step handbook. His plan works to build the reader’s awareness of the method behind Shakespeare’s ‘madness’ and the purpose for his rhetoric and poetic devices. The reader’s comprehension and appreciation is enriched… and Cohen’s text becomes an excellent basic guide for anyone who likes to get behind the scenes, be it the actor who performs or the student who studies Shakespeare’s script as a literary text.” —The Shakespeare Newsletter

“A revised and expanded second edition that explores the ‘what for’ of a character’s style. For what reason does Henry V speak in ascending cadences, Romeo in sonnet form or Hermione in long sentences? …Literary experts may explain why Shakespeare makes these choices, but Cohen discusses why the character would choose to make them – even unconsciously – and then how the actor makes the same choice on behalf of the character. …The result is often eye-opening, and should prove useful to both actor and director.” Stage Directions

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