A detailed guide to approaching Shakespearean text, Speak the speech! contains everything an actor needs to select and prepare a Shakespeare monologue for classwork, auditions, or performance. Included herein are over 150 monologues. Each one is placed in context with a brief introduction, is carefully punctuated in the manner that best illustrates its meaning, and is painstakingly and thoroughly annotated. Each is also accompanied by commentary that will spark the actor's imagination by exploring how the interrelationship of meter and the choice of words and sounds yields clues to character and performance. And throughout the book sidebars relate historical, topical, technical, and other useful and entertaining information relevant to the text. In addition, the authors include an overview of poetic and rhetorical elements, brief synopses of all the plays, and a comprehensive index along with other guidelines that will help readers locate the perfect monologue for their needs.
Each monologue is accompanied by 2-5 pages of analysis, of ways to perform it, tips about the play, and so on. Beyond this, an introduction explores meter in poetry and a 100 page appendix details the plots of every play - bonus addition to the library, really.
This is sometimes a very American book in the way it analyses the text, and the way it approaches older material, so it may occasionally be colloquially discombobulating to those of us from the Commonwealth. But that's a small matter. The authors are aiming the text at the reader less skilled in Elizabethan prose, be they high school, first year uni, or simply American, but it works for all. Because it makes no assumptions about the reader, we get help boxes on genealogy, elision, textual difficulties, and most any question to be answered on the Bard.
This is a big book to be savoured, for the text, for the straightforward introduction to Shakespeare's writing and performance style, and to the helpful and varied tips on each piece. Some monologues are omitted surprisingly, although with the size of the book there had to be a limit, while other inclusions are less familiar, which is lovely. All in all, a worthy enterprise that will sit nicely on my Shakespeare shelf.