Background & History
Friendly Folio: What We Do
Friendly Folio has taken Shakespeare's First Folio scripts and created a more user-friendly format for actors, teachers, directors, workshop-leaders and students.
Via this website, we can provide, for a very low cost, user-friendly versions of First Folio plays, parts (also known as 'sides' or 'roles'), speeches and beginnings (a complete package for a play's first 30 minutes, with additional guides and more). We can also provide sonnets, collectables (speeches printed on special paper - the ideal gift), and cue scripts (a custom selected package of scripts for a group of people).
Friendly Folio is run by Patrick Tucker and Christine Ozanne, joined by Philip Bird, who played many lead roles for the Original Shakespeare Company, including Orlando, King John, and Posthumus; all at Shakespeare's Globe in London.
Here is an example of the difference between an original First Folio script, and a Friendly Folio version of the same script. You can see how the speech headings have been standardised: for example, in the First Folio version Juliet's father is first set down as "Cap." (Capulet), and then as "Fa." (Father); we have consistently put him down as "Capulet:"
It is interesting to note that Capulet addresses his daughter first with "your", then changes to "thee" and finally goes back to "you" all in his first speech; see Clues to acting from the Folio.
A longer example of how we present a folio script, as well as seeing examples of Cue Scripts, can be seen on our Free Sample page.
More details on the Friendly Folio format
We have kept all the Folio punctuation and spelling, lineage, and capitalisation. However, we have made changes to the following to make the scripts more user-friendly:
Whenever we have made a change to the Folio (apart from obvious expansion of names), we have noted this with an *, and at the end of the script we have listed what we have changed, and from which scene.
Often, when the first line of a speech spills over to the next line, it is because the Folio has the speech heading and first line together. We have preserved the Folio layout, but for clarity our speech headings are on a separate line. When the Folio brackets a word to indicate it should be on another line, we have moved it.
Acts and Scenes
Some of the plays have all the Acts and Scenes noted; some just have Acts; some have neither, or are inconsistent in their use. In order to help you find the different scenes, we have added Act and Scene numbers in square brackets: [ ] to the Plays, Parts and Beginnings. These are our additions, and are there to help you compare these scripts with others, although we must point out that different editors have used different scene breaks and numbers, so that the numbers in another edition may not be quite the same as the numbers we use.
Typeface and abbreviations
Back in those early days of printing, the long tailed "s" was used, and these have been changed to the standard "s". Also, the letters "u" and "v" were used interchangeably, and "i" was often used instead of "j". We have checked, and if necessary changed them to be correct for today. You can see this on our home page with the end speeches of Much adoe about Nothing, and in the Romeo and Juliet example shown above.
Usually, words in italics indicate that it is either a proper name, a foreign word, the words of a letter, or the words of a song, but it is not completely consistent throughout the Folio.
All abbreviations have been expanded, so "L." and "S." have been changed to "Lord" and "Saint", etc. The ampersand "&" has been expanded to "and", and the "" expanded to whichever of "the", "thy", "that", "which" words are appropriate. Similarly, "frõ" has been expanded to "from", and other uses of "õ" expanded in a similar way.
Where there are stage instructions in a play, we put them as in the Folio, expanding names when abbreviations have been used. When stage instructions are missing or incorrect, then we have added or changed them, with a clear indication of what we have done by inserting an *, and listing at the end of the script the changes made. Where possible we have included stage instructions that appear in the Quarto versions of a play.
We have tried to keep the changes to a minimum, but are guided by our wish to be Friendly, as well as the knowledge that we must prepare our Parts and Cue Scripts, where it is essential to know where a character has an entrance or an exit, understanding that you may well make other decisions as to where to place the changed stage instructions.
There remain for each play a few outstanding problems with the text, such as the same person speaking three speeches in a row. As before, any change is announced with an *, and at the end of the script the changes we have made are clearly listed, and again you are invited to make your own judgements as to whether or not to use them.
We have also listed at the start of each play the complete cast list, which illustrates why, for example, we have had to change the names of Messengers and Servants to make sure each has a unique name (necessary when preparing the different Parts for a play).
Throughout the preparation of these materials, our guiding principal has been "If it is actable, leave the Folio text alone", and that is what we do in our Classes and Workshops.
As source material, we have accessed the facsimiles of the First Folio, and when necessary compared
them with each other to get the best version of the text. The versions we have on our shelf and have used are:
If you require any further information please don't hesitate to contact us.
First Folio punctuation and spelling
We believe that the punctuation in the Folio is an actor's punctuation, and that it corresponds to the speech patterns and thought lengths that we use when speaking. We believe that the Folio is not a literary text, for when he first penned those lines Shakespeare had no wish or intention that anyone but actors should read them – they were written to be listened to, so the punctuation is essentially theatrical in its use, and that is why we stick rigorously to it in our Friendly Folio texts.
When in our Classes and Workshops we get actors to follow the original punctuation, it always helps their interpretation. Some years ago working at the Royal Shakespeare Company, a leading actor told us "Whenever I have a problem with a speech, I go to the First Folio and find that the punctuation there always helps me." Modern editors often add more full stops (or periods), thereby increasing the number of thoughts. But we find that the thought lengths in the original are very helpful in working out what the character is up to, and what their attitude is.
The capitalisation can also be of great help to an actor, and which words attract a capital letter (removed by most modern editions) are always theatrically significant. The spelling of words can occasionally be a problem, and the most common of these are listed in our famous 20 Acting Clues document that is enclosed with each Speech that you get from us, and with each Part.