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THE INESSENTIAL SHAKESPEARE

by John & Leela Hort
The Kabet Press

Shakespeare in modern English

www.startingshakespeare.co.uk

now available through SchoolPlay Productions Ltd.

"Shakespeare made entertaining and simple, faithful to the characters and scenes and capturing the essence of the originals" THE TIMES EDUCATIONAL SUPPLEMENT

 A Midsummer Night's Dream Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream: a shortened and simplified version in modern English ISBN 978 0 948662 03 4
Cast  20 speaking parts, 12m, 4f + 4 fairies. Some doubling possible.
Suggested Age Range  11 upwards
Approx. Running Time  70 minutes
Music  Plenty of opportunity for music (for example, the use of Mendelssohn's music for the  play).
Set  The Duke's palace, Quince's house, a wood.
Synopsis  This play has everything - mistaken identity, jealous lovers, mischievous fairies, comic  workmen - and it all adds up to a magical entertainment for young and old. Acting  opportunities ranging from the seriously dramatic to light-hearted clowning.
   
 Hamlet Shakespeare's Hamlet: a shortened and simplified version in modern English ISBN 978 0 948662 05 8
Cast  16m 3f, + another 10 minor speaking parts and numerous attendants, soldiers.  Doubling possible.
Suggested Age Range  11-16 or 16-18
Approx. Running Time  80 minutes
Music  Music for Ophelia's songs.
Set  The castle wall, various rooms in Elsinore castle, a churchyard, open country.
Synopsis  Claudius has murdered his brother, Hamlet, King of Denmark, so that he can become  king and marry his brother's wife, Queen Gertude. The old king's ghost appears to  young Prince Hamlet and tells him to take revenge. Hamlet promises to do this, but is  not sure whether to believe the ghost: could it be an evil spirit? The arrival of some  actors at Elsinore gives Hamlet an opportunity to test Claudius's guilt by means of a  play. At the performance Claudius betrays himself, but Hamlet continues to put off  taking action. Hamlet's disgust at his mother's behaviour, his love for Ophelia, his  contempt for Polonius and his own attempt to hide his suspicions under a cloak of  madness, all add to the complex subtlety of the play.
   

 Henry V
Shakespeare's Henry V: a shortened and simplified version in modern English ISBN 978 0 948662 01 0
Cast
 40 speaking parts, many of them very small, with much doubling possible + soldiers,  attendants etc. 20 main parts.
Suggested Age Range  11-16 or 16-18
Approx. Running Time  70 minutes
Music  Very small amount of singing (Pistol & Boy).
Set  The English and French kings' palaces, the English and French camps in France,  battle scenes in France, a London street.
Synopsis  Henry is persuaded that his claim to the French throne is just and the church promises  money to fight the French. After being mocked by the French Dauphin about his  misspent youth, Henry decides to invade. Three traitors are put to death and the army  sails across the channel - including a trio of unsavoury characters: Bardolph, Nym and  Pistol. The English win Harfleur, but then, sick and weary, face the French at  Agincourt. Henry refuses to surrender and his army prepares to fight - he goes round  the troops in the night, discussing the rights and wrongs of the campaign and  encouraging them. The English archers ensure that the battle is won and Henry returns  to England in triumph. Later, Henry returns to France to win the hand of Katherine,  the French King's daughter.
   
 Macbeth Shakespeare's Macbeth: a shortened and simplified version in modern English ISBN 978 0 948662 04 1
Cast  30 speaking parts, 20 fairly major 15m 5f + soldiers, attendants etc. Much doubling  possible.
Suggested Age Range  11 upwards
Approx. Running Time  60 minutes
Music  Music possible for Witches dance.
Set  Scotland, plus one scene in England. Heath, battlefield, Macbeth's castle - inside & out,  Witches hut.
Synopsis  The play opens with the three Witches warnings of evil to come. Macbeth is honoured  by King Duncan for his bravery in battle. Soon after, Macbeth and Banquo meet the  Witches who promise Macbeth more honours - even kingship - at the same time as  their prophesy that Banquo's descendants will be kings. Spurred on by his ruthless and  ambitious wife, Macbeth murders Duncan and becomes king. Duncan's sons lead the  people against Macbeth. Lady Macbeth, guilt ridden, loses her mind and dies. Macbeth  is defeated in battle and killed by Macduff. Too late, he realises he was misled by the  Witches and corrupted by ambition.
 This play offers some great speaking parts, as well as fertile ground for the  imagination of the producer.
   
 Romeo & Juliet Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet: a shortened and simplified version in modern English ISBN 978 0 948662 02 7
Cast  26 parts, 20 speaking 16m, 4f plus some very minor speaking parts + citizens, guests,  servants.
Suggested Age Range  11 upwards
Approx. Running Time  70 minutes
Music  For dancing in one scene.
Set  A street in Verona, rooms in various houses, a balcony, gardens, a churchyard.
Synopsis  The background to this great love story is the feud between two warring families in  Verona, the Montagues and the Capulets. This feud is only ended by the tragic deaths  of the two lovers, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet. There are fights, duels,  dancing, the famous balcony love scene and plenty of humour.
   
 Twelfth Night Shakespeare's Twelfth Night: a shortened and simplified version in modern English ISBN 978 0 948662 00 3
Cast  10 main 7m, 3f, 5 minor + attendants, sailors, musicians and 2 policemen.
Suggested Age Range  11 upwards
Approx. Running Time  70 minutes
Music  3 songs, a round and 3 snatches of songs.
Set  A palace, the seashore, a kitchen, a room in a house, a garden, a street.
Synopsis  Duke Orsino believes that he is in love with Lady Olivia, but she will have nothing to  do with him. When the shipwrecked Viola, disguised as a man, becomes the Duke's  servant, she falls in love with him. The Duke uses Viola to carry messages of love to  Olivia, who promptly falls in love with the messenger! When Viola's lost twin brother  Sebastian turns up, Olivia mistakes him for Viola.
 Meanwhile Sir Toby Belch, Olivia's drunken uncle, encourages the witless Sir Andrew  to think he might marry Olivia. Olivia's maid Maria and Feste the jester make fun of  Olivia's steward, the self-important Malvolio. After a scene of confusion involving the  twins, the play ends with two marriages: Orsino to Viola and Olivia to Sebastian and  Sir Toby promises to marry Maria.
   
 Julius Caesar  Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: a shortened and simplified version in modern English ISBN 978 0 948662 06 5
Cast  34 speaking parts, 32m 2f (though could be done with a mixed cast) + soldiers, citizens, a cobbler, a carpenter, a poet, Caesar's  ghost.
Suggested Age Range  11 upwards
Approx. Running Time  80 minutes
Music  No
Set  Rome - street scenes, interior scenes, the forum, battle scenes.
Synopsis  The classic speeches by Brutus and Antony form only part of the appeal of this play. The  character of Cassius is tellingly set against that of Brutus, we see enough of Caesar to  understand the opposition to his dictatorship, and Antony winds up the crowd in masterly  fashion. Portia and Calphurnia are the only female characters, but there's no reason why the  play shouldn't be done by a mixed cast. When the assassination of Caesar leads inevitably to  war, Brutus and Cassius clash over its conduct, but we are left wondering whether there can  ever be moral outcome to such an act. The failure of the conspirators to plan what to do after  the assassination has clear contemporary relevance.

"They bring to the plays a lightness of touch that serves their purpose very well. Their version of Henry V is particularly successful ...! EFL GAZETTE

Price Codes:

 Script: A Midsummer Night's Dream  Code C
 Performance Rights:A Midsummer Night's Dream  Code Y
 Script: Hamlet Code C
 Performance Rights: Hamlet Code Y
 Script: Henry V Code C
 Performance Rights: Henry V Code Y
 Script: Macbeth Code C
 Performance Rights: Macbeth Code Y
 Script: Romeo & Juliet Code C
 Performance Rights: Romeo & Juliet Code Y
 Script: Twelfth Night Code C
 Performance: Rights: Twelfth Night Code Y
 Script: Julius Caesar Code C  
 Performance Rights: Julius Caesar Code Y
 Licence to Copy: Code Y  
 Video Licence: Code H

"Though shortened and simplified, everything is there except the poetry - which is not lost, but waiting for a later, and now more aware, discovery." THE GUARDIAN

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