Review: A Shakespearean Actor Prepares

by Adrian Brine and Michael York.

It’s a good habit to be wary of books written by actors (especially moderately well known ones), often they use personal experience as examples and it can detract from the educational information at hand. This is not the case with this book. A Shakespearean Actor Prepares is a great guide for actors, directors, and other Bard lovers for learning to play Shakespeare.

I came across this book in a library (you know, those places where they let you check out books) one day and sat down to see if it would be any good. After getting half way through the foreword I wasn’t too excited. I was getting bored with information about the authors and their relationship, experience, and random other gobs of info I didn’t really want to know. Fearing I would be in for more pain – I cut to the chase, skipping the rest of the foreword and dived into the book. Things took a turn for the better, the much better.

Brine and York go on to guide the reader smoothly and painlessly into the inner workings of Shakespearean text, the relation of the form and content, painting pictures with your words, creating a character supported by the text, and much more.

What fascinated me more than anything is the excellent final chapter: Shakespeare and Stanislavski. One would expect some mention of the famous Russian in a book that is similar to the title of one of his own. This chapter expounds upon the topic of using Method acting in Shakespeare. It effectively asks and answers the question “Is ‘the method’ relevant to acting Shakespeare?” The answer: …You’ll have to read the book!

This book has a lot of great information in it and I would recommend it to anyone who loves shakespeare and wants to be able to speak (and act) his words with distinction. Basic knowledge of Shakespeare is a big help with a book like this, I don’t think this is a great “intro to Shakespeare” text, but it definitely covers things that are essential before you get too far along in your Shakespeare careers. A Shakespearean Actor should prepare with reading this book, which merits this work a 4 on the Bardmeter scale.

A Shakespearean Actor Prepares