The RSC Shakespeare is unique amongst editions of the complete works in the comprehensiveness of its on-page gloss. Uncensored, full, yet jargon-free notes at the foot of each page open up Shakespeare's language and explain slang, classical, biblical, political & contemporary references, bawdy word play and other language unfamiliar to modern audiences. The design, tone and content of this gloss has been carefully designed to help the reader get closer to the easy, natural, flowing response to the language experienced in the theatre. In preparing the notes for the RSC edition, full advantage has been taken of new electronic databases containing thousands of sixteenth-century texts. This has enabled really thorough searching for the meanings of words and has allowed the editors to see how they functioned in a massive variety of contexts: in plays, poetry, popular ballads, legal records, medical books, advice manuals, letters, and dictionaries and other sources. Click here to read a lively account by Héloïse Sénéchal, Chief Associate Editor of The RSC Shakespeare, of the glossing process and a wealth of examples of the sort of specialist language, sexual slang, multiple meanings, performance insights, contextual meanings, classical/biblical allusions illuminated by the glossary notes in the edition.
Shakespeare's rich language also offers great opportunities and challenges for actors. Click on the links below to listen to Michael Pennington, an actor who has played some of Shakespeare's most interesting and linguistically demanding roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the English Shakespeare Company, in conversation with Jonathan Bate on the subject of how the 'nuts and bolts' of Shakespeare's poetic language work from the actor's point of view.
note: to listen to the below file click the link to listen in browser or default music player, alternatively right click and select save as to save the file to your computer.
- Iambic Pentameter (mp3 ~ 2.4mb)
- End-stopped lines versus run-on lines (mp3 ~ 2.8mb)
- 'Rhyme, Rules and Mystique' – differing views on how to speak Shakespeare (mp3 ~ 3.8mb)
- Changing Fashions and Acting Styles (mp3 ~ 6.5mb)
- The Joy of Reading Aloud (mp3 ~ 1.3mb)