What We’re Reading

From time to time, we are going to post on this page what we are reading, insofar as it relates to Shakespeare, the theatre, acting, directing, and playwriting. We invite you to let us know what you are reading and enjoying that pertains to the same topics.

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Productions in the Summer of 2013

Here are books and articles that Artistic Director Michael Mendelson and Associate Artistic Director/Education Director Michael Nehring recommend about our productions this summer:

The Taming of the Shrew

There are many good editions of The Taming of the Shrew, including the Arden Shakespeare version

 and the New Cambridge Shakespeare edition, which has a very good introduction that discusses the controversies surrounding the play

 Artistic Director Michael Mendelson is using The Three Shrew Plays, which includes an annotated version of The Taming of the Shrew and John Fletcher’s The Tamer Tamed, since Portland Shakes is doing both plays this summer


The Tamer Tamed

Associate Artistic Director Michael Nehring had been using the Mermaid version of The Tamer Tamed, but he has switched to The Three Shrew Plays version that Michael Mendelson is using.  Professor Nehring notes the substantial differences between the versions of The Tamer Tamed in two editions, which is one of the problems of determining what is the definitive text for a play, including a Shakespeare play, from this period.

 Unfortunately, for those of you who would prefer to read the plays on your Kindle, there does not seem to be a Kindle version of The Tamer Tamed.  Please let us know if you find one.


There is, of course, the Bard himself. If you are not yet a Shakespearean scholar, it may surprise you to learn that we know a great deal less about his life than you would imagine. For an easy start to learning about how little we know about William Shakespeare, and what we actually do know, try Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare: The World As Stage. Bill Bryson is the author of many books, not the least of which is A Short History of Nearly Everything, and Shakespeare’s famous saying – “All the World’s A Stage” – comes from As You Like It, which is the best that can be done here to tie everything together.


If you want a somewhat more scholarly approach to Shakespeare, and one which uses the plays themselves to elucidate Shakespeare’s life, try Peter Ackroyd’s Shakespeare: The Biography. This book fills in the details of the world that Shakespeare lived in, as well as revealing what we know about Shakespeare from reading his plays.


Book Recommendations

Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Daniel Pollack-Pelzer, Assistant Professor of English at Linfield College, highly recommends Majorie Garber’s Shakespeare After All

Artistic Director, Michael Mendelson, suggests Playing Shakespeare, by John Barton


and Freeing Shakespeare’s Voice: The Actors Guide to Talking the Text, by Kristin Linklater



Associate Artistic Director/Education Director, Professor Michael Nehring, has two recommendations:

Actor Training the Laban Way: An Integrated Approach to Voice, Speech, and Movement, by Barbara Adrian

and The Michael Chekov Handbook for the Actor, by Lenard Petit

Sarah Lucht recommends The Art of Breathing, by Nancy Zi,


and Conscious Breathing: Breathwork for Health, Stress Release and Personal Mastery, by Gay Hendricks


Luisa Sermol likes Speak with Distinction, by Edith Skinner


and The Right to Speak: Working with the Voice, by Patsy Rodenburg


She also recommends that students taking her class have a copy of Kenyon and Knott, A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English


and, for those ready to commit, The Shakespeare Lexicon and Quotation Dictionary


and, A Shakespeare Glossary

Past Productions:

Productions in the Summer of 2012

The summer of 2012 was The Season of Lear, so we were reading King Lear. Artistic Director Michael Mendelson highly recommendedThe Arden Shakespeare version of King Lear. This version contains a wonderful introduction and very detailed text notes at the bottom of each page of the text of the play. Reading the text together with the notes will bring this marvelous play to life.

Director Jon Kretzu was using the Signet Classics version of King Lear to make his cuts for the show, and that version is also highly recommended.

 The Summer of 2011

The first play that Portland Shakespeare Project produced was As You Like It. The edition of As You Like It we used was the Signet Classics edition

Another highly recommended edition that we like is The Arden Shakespeare’s version of As You Like It, edited by Juliet Dusinberre. The Arden Shakespeare contains a wonderful introduction and very detailed text notes at the bottom of each page of the text of the play. Reading the text together with the notes brings this marvelous play to life.

Keep Watching

We’ll be posting more book recommendations here soon, so keep watching for them. If you would like to tell us what you are reading, please contact us. If you read one of these books and enjoy it, you may want to take a class from one of our instructors. They teach what they read and recommend.

The Kindle

Many of the book recommendations, including the Ackroyd and Bryson biographies, are available on the Kindle, which, if you haven’t tried it yet, you really should try.


There is little question that it is revolutionizing reading, publishing and writing.