The Play’s the Thing!

Selections from Playing Shakespeare’s Characters, Vols. 1-4

by Louis Fantasia (Volume editor)
©2022 Edited Collection XIV, 170 Pages


Curated from the first four volumes of Peter Lang's Playing Shakespeare's Characters series, this omnibus edition selects the most practical essays for actors and directors wanting to play and produce Shakespeare's plays. The dozen contributors in this volume explore ways to play Shakespeare's lovers, villains, monarch, madmen, rebels, and tyrants. It gives critical guidance for directors and producers wanting to stage Shakespeare in the age of Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. The book is a valuable companion for students, actors, directors, and designers who want insight into playing Shakespeare today.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editor
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Contributors
  • Introduction: The Play’s the Thing!
  • 1. The Story of Cressida’s Body: The Rebellion of Survivorship in Troilus and Cressida (and Our Responsibility in Storytelling) (Rebels) (Olivia Buntaine)
  • 2. Smiling, Damned Villains: The Pleasure of Not Caring (Villains) (Brian Lohmann)
  • 3. Re-“Claiming from the Female”: Shakespeare’s Henry V (Monarchs) (Janna Segal)
  • 4. Othello: In the Age of Black Lives Matter and DACA (Lovers) (Baron Kelly)
  • 5. “He that plays the King shall be welcome” (Villains) (Armin Shimerman)
  • 6. Through Hamlet’s Eyes (Monarchs) (Timothy Harris)
  • 7. “In Boy, go first. You houseless povertie … ”: Social Justice and Transformation in King Lear (Rebels) (Charles Duff)
  • 8. My Poor Fool: Dramatic Implications for Single, Double, and Dual Casting Cordelia and the Fool in King Lear (Monarchs) (Jessie Lee Mills)
  • 9. Measure for Measure (Monarchs) (Elaine Turner)
  • 10. Caliban in Love (Lovers) (Susan Gayle Todd)
  • 11. Behind Closed Doors: Sex, Lies and Servants (Villains) (Edit Villarreal)
  • 12. “Very fine people …” (Villains) (Louis Fantasia)

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Olivia Buntaine is an Intimacy Director for theater based in Los Angeles and Boston, and an apprentice with Intimacy Directors International. She specializes in choreographing unconventional and creative intimacy scenes through a pedagogical lens of intersectionality, trauma-informed care, and the investigation of power and privilege. She has worked extensively as an assistant to Jessica Steinrock, Lead Instructor for Intimacy Directors International. Buntaine is also the artistic director of Project Nongenue, a Los Angeles-based theater company which centralizes the voices of women and marginalized populations in classical theater and mythology.

Charles Duff is an actor, teacher, theater director critic and writer. A graduate of the Bristol Old Vic Theater School, he has taught and directed at the Mountview Theater School, Trinity College of Music, and at the London Theater School, where he was Vice Principal and Director of Productions. He became involved with the rebuilding Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in 1985 and taught for Globe Education from the outset. He was on the faculty of Notre Dame University and Roger Williams University, Rhode Island London Campuses for many years, teaching Shakespeare and theater history. He has acted and directed in London and in regional theaters in the U.S. and U.K. His opera productions have been seen both in Britain and Spain. His book, The Lost Summer, the Heyday of the West End Theater (Heinemann/Nick Hern Books, 1995) was called by Sheridan Morley in The Sunday Times “the best theatrical history I have come across in years.” His memoir, Charley’s Woods (Zuleika, 2017) was a Spectator Book of the Year. His latest book The Best of the West End 19302000, was published by Zuleika in January, 2022.←xi | xii→

Louis Fantasia (Series Editor) is Artistic Associate at the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. He has served as Dean of the Faculty of the New York Film Academy and President of Deep Springs College. His books include Instant Shakespeare (published by Ivan R. Dee), Tragedy in the Age of Oprah, (Scarecrow Press), and Talking Shakespeare: Notes from a Journey (Peter Lang Publishers). In 2003, the Council of Europe named the theater collection at its library in the European Parliament in honor of Louis Fantasia, who holds both U.S. and European Union passports. In 2016 he was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland) for his contributions to German culture and theater.

Timothy Harris has lived in Japan for 46 years. His translations and essays on poetry, drama, music and art have appeared in PN Review (Manchester), Agenda (London), SNOW (Lewes), Quadrant (Melbourne), Plays International (London), Art International (Lugano), the Asian edition of The Financial Times, and The Chicago Review; he also contributed to The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English (Oxford University Press). He acts and directs, lectures on British and Irish literature, and works as a diction coach for (English) opera, oratorio and song, at the New National Theater, Tokyo, and elsewhere.

Baron Kelly, Ph.D., is a critic, historian, practitioner, and scholar. In addition to his long list of acting and directing credits on and off Broadway, he is a four-time Fulbright Scholar. Formerly Professor and Head of the Graduate Acting Program at the University of Louisville, he is Vilas Distinguished Professor of Theater and Drama at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Brian Lohmann is currently on the faculty at Pepperdine University, and teaches Shakespeare through Improvisation for the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. Brian also directs, acts and teaches for Impro Theater, Los Angeles. Stage credits include A.C.T., The Old Globe, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Laguna Playhouse and The Magic Theater. He has received Garland, Drama-Logue, and StageScene LA Awards. Brian was core faculty for the American Conservatory Theater’s MFA program, and has been a guest instructor at Stanford, The Guthrie Theater, The Public Theater’s Shakespeare Lab, The Old Globe/USD, Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Jessie Lee Mills (Associate Editor) is an Assistant Professor of Theater at Pomona College and a professional director. She directs, adapts, and ←xii | xiii→devises theater, opera, musicals, films, and new works in venues throughout the United States and abroad. She received her M.F.A. in Directing from Carnegie Mellon University and is a John Wells Fellow. Her scholarship centers on ensemble-theater, empathy, and comedy-as-community.

Dr. Janna Segal is an Assistant Professor of Theater Arts at the University of Louisville. Prior to U of L, she was an Assistant Professor of Theater and Shakespeare and Performance at Mary Baldwin University, and an IHUM Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University. She received her Ph.D. in Drama and Theater from the UC Irvine/UC San Diego joint doctoral program, her MA in Theater from CSUN, and her BA in Theater Arts from UC Santa Cruz. She has published single- and co-authored works on Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Othello, Midsummer, The Roaring Girl, and Fo and Rame’s Elisabetta. Dr. Segal is also a freelance dramaturg and the Resident Dramaturg for the Comparative Drama Conference’s Staged Reading Series.

Armin Shimerman is mostly known to the public as a television actor with over eighty major television roles, notably Quark on Star Trek and Principal Snyder on Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. With an English degree from UCLA, his primary focus has always been on Shakespeare and Elizabethan studies. He is a sought-after Shakespeare coach for actors and is a current associate professor at the University of Southern California. He is the author of the Science fiction trilogy, “The Merchant Prince”, with its Tudor mathematician hero, Dr. John Dee. On stage, he has acted in over a third of the Bard’s canon, appeared several times on Broadway as well as major regional theater stages. He helps run a small theater in Glendale, the Antaeus Company, and has directed several Shakespeare productions. He lives with his wife, Kitty Swink, in Los Angeles.

Dr. Elaine Turner (B.A., Brandeis University; Ph.D., University of Warwick): after working as stage manager and director on the London stage, Dr. Turner became a lecturer at several universities including University of Warwick, Brunel University, Central School of Speech and Drama, and Queen Mary and Westfield University. She created and taught both BA and MA Distance Learning degrees at Rose Bruford College and Central. Dr. Turner was a founding and long term member of the Shakespeare studies teaching team at the International Shakespeare Globe Centre. Script reader and assessor at the Royal National Theater and Channel 4, her publications include: “War Plays by Women” in Continuum Encyclopedia of British ←xiii | xiv→Theater, Routledge, 1999; and “Practical Theater” in St. James Compendium of Playwrights and Plays, Stanley Thornes, 1997.

Susan Gayle Todd, Ph.D., was the Producing Artistic Director of Austin (TX) Scottish Rite Theater and co-founder/director of The Weird Sisters Women’s Theater Collective. Since 2003, she has taught Shakespeare Through Performance pedagogy in various settings, including the Huntington Library and The University of Texas at Austin.

Edit Villarreal’s play The Language of Flowers, a contemporary Chicano adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, received its equity premiere at A Contemporary Theater ACT in Seattle. Other plays include Marriage is Forever, and My Visits With MGM (My Grandmother Marta). For television, she co-wrote three scripts for the award winning series, “Foto-Novelas” produced by PBS. Other PBS credits include “La Carpa”, a one hour drama about Chicano vaudevillians in the 1930’s.. She is one of only two Latino playwrights to be included in the Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States, Oxford University Press. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, she is Vice-Chair Graduate Studies and Professor in Playwriting at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

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Introduction: The Play’s the Thing!

Louis Fantasia

This omnibus edition presents selections from the four previous anthologies in Peter Lang’s Playing Shakespeare’s Characters series: Playing Shakespeare’s Lovers, Playing Shakespeare’s Villains, Playing Shakespeare’s Monarchs and Madmen, and Playing Shakespeare’s Rebels and Tyrants. I have been lucky enough to have been the editor of this series since its inception.


XIV, 170
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2022 (July)
Tragedy villains monarchy rebellion lovers passion acting directing Shakespeare The Play's The Thing Louis Fantasia Selections from "Playing Shakespeare's Characters, Vols. 1-4
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2022. XIV, 170 pp., 3 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Louis Fantasia (Volume editor)

Louis Fantasia is currently Artistic Associate of the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles and Series Editor of Playing Shakespeare's Characters. His books include Instant Shakespeare; Tragedy in the Age of Oprah; and Talking Shakespeare: Notes from a Journey. In 2003, the Council of Europe named the theatre collection at its library in the European Parliament in his honor. In 2016 he was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland) for his contributions to German culture and theater. A monologue from his first play, Dreams of a Sleep to Come (2020), was included in Best Men’s Monologues of 2021.


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184 pages