The commentary at the centre of this groundbreaking introduction alerts the reader to what happens on stage during a performance by showing what the text requires from actors and the choices they are offered. By this means, the Handbook demonstrates how an audience responds to plot and dramatic structure, what conflicts and issues are involved as the action unfolds, and the effects of developing expectation and variations of tension and pace. Chapters complementing this core feature provide an account of the three original texts, the theatrical conditions of early performances, and the play's social, political and cultural contexts. Generous quotations are given from books that influenced the writing of the play, and notable productions and performances are described to illustrate a wide range of interpretations. A concluding chapter quotes from recent critics and offers a number of different ways in which to understand the significance of this tragedy which has proved its enduring appeal.
JOHN RUSSELL BROWN is Professor of Theatre at Middlesex University, UK, and was recently Visiting Professor at Columbia University, USA. He is an internationally known theatre director and author and a Former Associate Director of the National Theatre. His many books on theatre and Shakespeare include The Oxford Illustrated History of Theatre, New Sites for Shakespeare, Shakespeare: The Tragedies and Shakespeare and the Theatrical Event.