Reviews for Macbeth : The 30-Minute Shakespeare

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 November

Gr 8 Up--Abiding by the premise that the text is supreme, Newlin's cuttings reveal the stories through the use of original dialogue and short connecting narratives to compensate for missing scenes. Each adaptation is accompanied by simple stage directions and a prop list. A sample program indicates possible double-casting of roles, and Newlin's personal notes on the pros and cons of his own high school production will embolden neophyte directors. A preface explains the origins of Newlin's adaptations, and an essay on "Performing Shakespeare," which follows the text, includes rehearsal suggestions and a discussion of the application of Aristotle's six elements of drama. A good bibliography of print and online resources completes the work. Newlin's prose is clear and explanatory, stressing the importance of understanding Shakespeare's words and of granting license to the young actors' own ideas. Problems do occur, however, with the adaptations themselves because large sections of the plays have been omitted to accommodate the time frame, and the scenes do not always follow their original order. For example, in Midsummer, readers learn that Puck has engineered Titania's falling in love with an "ass," but Oberon's reasons for wanting to humiliate her are never divulged. Geared to an older audience than Carole Cox's Shakespeare's Kids (Libraries Unlimited, 2009), Newlin's titles maintain Cox's philosophy of empowering young actors with Shakespeare's own words and could serve well as introductory texts for simple productions if additional narratives are supplied.--Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, The Naples Players, FL

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