Background & History
Friendly Folio - Beginnings
These are the Beginnings we have prepared (seven of the plays have shorter versions also listed). Choose the play you would like from the table below and press the Select button to add it to your basket. When you click on the name of a play, you can also see what else Friendly Folio has connected with it.
Cost: Each Beginning is priced at £20, and to help with your presentations, the package includes Beginnings Extras (see right). This comes to a total of about 60 to 70 pages for each complete package. We accept either PayPal or credit card. Please note: You will have reasonable photocopying rights, but no re-sale rights.
Getting the scripts: We will send the material to you by email in PDF format, unless you specifically request it in Word or WordPerfect, and we email it to you once your payment has been verified. This will normally be within 2 working days. We can also supply it formatted for US sized paper.
The first scene of A Midsommer Nights Dreame has been prepared as a very short Beginning, and is available as a Free Sample on application.
More about Beginnings
This is your chance to work the way the original actors did, either with a cast or with a class. The scenes can be presented in performance, or a class can read the scenes, enjoying the surprise of finding out what is going on by listening to each other, since none of them will have the complete script - just their Cue Scripts. All the text is in Friendly Folio format, and we have prepared the Beginnings for twenty-one of the plays, together with a guide to working this way.
With our Beginnings package, you get the Prompt Script for the first 30 minutes or so of the play, together with the associated Platt and the Chart of the scenes, showing exactly who is involved in each scene, and how many lines they have to speak. You also get the complete set of Cue Scripts for each of the characters involved in the Beginning, so that the piece can be read or performed with exactly the same information that the original actors would have had, and with all the information that Shakespeare would have supplied for that script, such as First Folio punctuation and spelling. For additional authenticity, the Cue Scripts for each character can be made up into a Role (instructions for this are included).
We have been doing such scenes with professional actors and with drama school students since the early 1980s in our Classes and Workshops, and in training actors for the Original Shakespeare Company, and have always found them to be revealing, exciting, and a great insight into the play. By doing these first scenes, the Beginnings, there is no information that the original actors would have had prior to receiving and learning their lines. Back in those days, there was no rehearsal in the modern sense of the word, and with the actors doing a different play every day of the week, there would be precious little time to do anything other than be guided by the text in each individual Part (see also Original Practices). The Platt would have dealt with such matters as the properties to be taken on stage, the order of scenes, and which actor was assigned to each role.
To help with your presentations, the Beginnings package includes as Beginnings Extras the guides: How to work with a Beginning; Acting from a Cue Script; How to make up a Role in the original way; and the famous 20 Acting Clues on acting from Folio text.
The text is exactly what is in the First Folio, with the exception of The Taming of the Shrew, which is presented without the Christopher Sly sequences in I-1 (the beggar at the start of the play, for whom the play is seemingly presented). Note that this means that Romeo and Juliet does not start with the Chorus speech, for that is only in the Quarto version of the play, although we have included this in the package as an Appendix.
To help you match your requirements, we have also prepared shorter versions of the Beginnings:
We have found that a good presentation runs at about 3½ seconds a line, including pauses and bits of stage business. Faster than that is better (we got it down to nearly 3 seconds a line with the OSC), and anything over 4 seconds a line is probably too indulgent, not allowing the verse to flow. The running times of each Beginning has therefore been calculated at either 3½ or 4 seconds a line.
We list how many lines are in the package, what the total number of people needed might be (and with doubling), what the cast break-down is, and how long it would probably run.