Alan Dessen draws on stage directions from hundreds of plays (from 1425 to 1642) to investigate what a playgoer may actually have seen when watching the original production of Hamlet or Macbeth. He argues for the presence of a shared vocabulary among playwrights, players and playgoers geared to a sense of theater that is easily obscured or eclipsed today. Chapters are devoted to such things as early entrances, the sick chair, vanish effects, tomb scenes, and to the staging of places such as a forest, a shop, a study or a house.
"Editors and directors (especially those about to re-create the conditions of Shakespeare's plays at the New Globe on Bankside) will ignore this book at their peril." SEL "More valuable than definitive conclusions is the range of staging possibilities he offers for readers and directors of Shakespeare, for he thus opens up new ways to think about stage action and provides sound reasons to think in those ways." Grace Tiffany, Comparative Drama "Certainly his book [Dessen] is a major resource for correcting the astigmatism, myopia, and presbyopia that are bound to afflict texts thata re four hundred or so years old." David Bevington, Modern Philology "Recovering Shakespeare's Theatrical Vocabulary is a very strong book..." Philip C. McGuire, Shakespeare Quarterly