CASTAWAYS on Desert Island Discs are always presented with a copy of Shakespeare’s Complete Works – and if they’re lucky from now on it will be the new edition of The RSC Shakespeare: The Complete Works.
Collected editions of the plays of Warwickshire’s most famous son were once reader unfriendly affairs printed in the smallest of fonts with zero explanation or guidance to the text. Not so the new RSC edition which follows 15 years after the hugely-acclaimed first edition.
Developed in partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company, this Complete Works is a magnificent book, combining exemplary textual scholarship with beautiful design.
With its 2,532 pages it’s also a weighty tome, but there’s nothing which doesn’t earn its place.
It is again curated by expert editors Sir Jonathan Bate and Professor Eric Rasmussen, with the text in this collection based on the iconic 1623 First Folio – the first and original Complete Works lovingly assembled by Shakespeare’s fellow actors, and the version of Shakespeare’s text preferred by many actors and directors today.
Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director Emeritus, said: “The text of any Shakespeare play is a living negotiable entity: scholarship and theatre practice work together to keep the plays alive and vividly present.”
And with that in mind, the revised edition goes further to present Shakespeare’s plays as they were originally intended – as living theatre to be enjoyed and performed on stage.
Along with new colour photographs from a range of RSC productions, a new Stage Notes feature documenting the staging choices in 100 RSC productions showcases the myriad ways in which Shakespeare’s plays can be brought to life.
Now featuring the entire range of Shakespeare’s plays, poems and sonnets, this edition is expanded to include both The Passionate Pilgrim and A Lover’s Complaint.
Along with Bate’s superb general introduction and short essays, this collection includes a range of aids to the reader such as on-page notes explaining unfamiliar terms and key facts boxes providing plot summaries and additional helpful context.
This is a Complete Works for the 21st century, a versatile edition set to inspire students, theatre practitioners and lovers of Shakespeare everywhere.
The RSC Shakespeare: The Complete Works, with a £34.99 RRP, is available from the shop at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford and from other outlets – high street and online.