Jaq Bessell, Shakespeare in Action, London and New York: Bloomsbury (The Arden Shakespeare), 2019, pp. 213


  • Elena Pellone




Jaq Bessell’s new Arden publication Shakespeare in Action is just that. Bessell collates a compendium of invaluable insights from practitioners in the United States and United Kingdom, working at major theatres to bring Shakespeare actively to life on stage. Bessell determines to give access to an understanding of the process, rather than simply the product, of Shakespeare production, interviewing actors and creatives from the major stakeholders of the Shakespeare theatre industry. Bessell intuits a first-hand understanding from her expertise as head of the acting programme at Guilford School of acting, head of Globe research during Mark Rylance’s tenure, teaching at the Shakespeare Institute and her extensive work on both sides of the Atlantic. An engaging resource for anyone with an interest in Shakespeare performance, the politics of who can speak Shakespeare, how to speak Shakespeare, whom Shakespeare belongs to, and the alchemic transformation from words on a page, to actions on a stage.

Keywords: Shakespeare; Stanislavski; performance; actions; verse speaking; Globe; Royal Shakespeare Company; American Shakespeare Centre; Shakespeare directors; Shakespeare actors