I won this as part of a Goodreads giveaway and what a fantastic set of short books they are, 15 of them so far, in which Shakespeare's plays are broken down to the essentials so that short (30 minute) plays can be pulled from them without losing the story. These books are intended for drama/acting teachers in schools and they retain the original language and intent. Each book contains a full 30 minute script with stage direction and a prop list as well as notes on performing Shakespeare, sample programs, and additional resources. They really seem to take away a lot of the intimidation that faces those first attempting Shakespeare and makes it very very simple. I wholeheartedly give them 5 stars. The only ones I've fully read as of this review were Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, and also the Tempest since it was also the most recent complete Shakespeare play I've read and it also happens to be my favorite. Here is an example of how it cuts to the core of the scenes:
Original unedited opening of Shakespeare's "The Tempest", Act II, Scene II:
1 All the infections that the sun sucks up
2 From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall and make him
3 By inch-meal a disease! His spirits hear me
4 And yet I needs must curse. But they'll nor pinch,
5 Fright me with urchin—shows, pitch me i' the mire,
6 Nor lead me, like a firebrand, in the dark
7 Out of my way, unless he bid 'em; but
8 For every trifle are they set upon me;
9 Sometime like apes that mow and chatter at me
10 And after bite me, then like hedgehogs which
11 Lie tumbling in my barefoot way and mount
12 Their pricks at my footfall; sometime am I
13 All wound with adders who with cloven tongues
14 Do hiss me into madness.
14 Lo, now, lo!
15 Here comes a spirit of his, and to torment me
16 For bringing wood in slowly. I'll fall flat;
17 Perchance he will not mind me.
18 Here's neither bush nor shrub, to bear off any
19 weather at all, and another storm brewing; I hear it
20 sing i' the wind: yond same black cloud, yond
21 huge one, looks like a foul bombard that would shed
22 his liquor. If it should thunder as it did before, I know
23 not where to hide my head: yond same cloud cannot
24 choose but fall by pailfuls. What have we here?
25 a man or a fish? dead or alive? A fish: he smells
26 like a fish; a very ancient and fish-like smell; a kind of
27 not of the newest Poor-John. A strange fish! Were I
28 in England now, as once I was, and had but this fish
29 painted, not a holiday fool there but would give a piece
30 of silver: there would this monster make a man;
31 any strange beast there makes a man: when they will
32 not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay
33 out ten to see a dead Indian. Legged like a man and
34 his fins like arms! Warm o' my troth! I do now let
35 loose my opinion; hold it no longer: this is no fish,
36 but an islander, that hath lately suffered by a thunderbolt.
37 Alas, the storm is come again! my
38 best way is to creep under his gaberdine; there is no
39 other shelter hereabouts: misery acquaints a man with
40 strange bed-fellows. I will here shroud till the dregs of
41 the storm be past.
Enter STEPHANO, singing,
[a bottle in his hand].
42 "I shall no more to sea, to sea,
43 Here shall I die ashore—"
44 This is a very scurvy tune to sing at a man's
45 funeral: well, here's my comfort.
46 "The master, the swabber, the boatswain and I,
47 The gunner and his mate
48 Loved Mall, Meg and Marian and Margery,
49 But none of us cared for Kate;
50 For she had a tongue with a tang,
51 Would cry to a sailor, Go hang!
52 She loved not the savour of tar nor of pitch,
53 Yet a tailor might scratch her where'er she did itch:
54 Then to sea, boys, and let her go hang!"
55 This is a scurvy tune too: but here's my comfort.
ETC ETC ETC
And here is the shortened version which loses nothing in the storyline:
Having escaped the apparently sinking ship, Trinculo hides under a cloak to weather the storm, where he discovers the island's ornery monster, Caliban. Drunk Stephano finds them both and shares his bottle with them, which livens things up!
Exit Narrator stage left.
Enter Caliban from stage right, carrying a bundle of wood.
Sound Operator plays Sound Cue #9 (Thunder).
All the infections that the sun sucks up
From bogs on Prosper fall.
Enter Trinculo from stage right.
Lo, now, lo!
Here comes a spirit of his, I'll fall flat.
(hides under his cloak)
Another storm brewing;
I know not where to hide my head:
What have we here? A man or a fish? Dead or Alive?
(lifts up the cloak)
A fish: he smells like a fish.
A strange fish! Legged like a man (noticing
Caliban's arms) and his fins like arms!
Warm o' my troth!
Sound Operator plays Sound Cue #10 (Thunder)
Trinculo panics at the sound of the storm.
Alas, the storm is come again! My best way is to
creep under his gaberdine.
Trinculo holds his nose to block the smell and crawls under the cloak. Caliban immediately sticks his head out from under the cloak with a startled look.
Enter Stephano from stage left, singing, with a flask in his hand.
I shall no more to sea, to sea,
Here shall I die ashore- (drinks)
This is scurvy tune too: but here's my comfort.
ETC ETC ETC
I donated these wonderful books to the Theater Program at my daughter's school and hope to see her performing in one of them before too long :)