Play Prep

Granville-Barker's Twelfth Night

Harley Granville-Barker's 1912 Twelfth Night

So you’re convinced that it’s time to go to the theatre (Summer Shakespeare, of course). Now what? There are several things you can do to prepare yourself.

First, read the play or a good adaptation of it. No Fear Shakespeare (brought to you by the folks at Spark Notes) puts Shakespeare’s text alongside a modern “translation.” (There’s even an iPod Touch app!) Reading the play before you see it will add to your understanding as well as your enjoyment. Young children–and perhaps many adults–will profit from a graphic version. For those of you who haven’t kept up with trends in book publishing, graphic novels (think comic books, only longer and with better content) and stories have become mainstream.

Another idea is to find information about the play’s author or articles written by dramaturgs and critics. Websites such as, Cummings study guides, even Cliffs Notes will heighten your awareness of characters and themes. Sometimes a cinematic version of the play will give additional clues about the play.

Your final chance to prepare yourself comes at the theatre itself. Settle yourself in your seat, take in the scene design, then read your program–be it a cast list only or a detailed booklet of essays on the play. The program will let you know what a particular director and designers believe to be important about the play you’re about to see.

Whatever your prep method–or even if you like your theatre impromptu–enjoy the experience!

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One Response to “Play Prep”

  • Donna Says:

    “Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him…” I have only just realized that the blog’s mod/administrator’s screen name comes from Hamlet! How little we pay attention to such wit.
    Looking forward to this summer’s production 🙂

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