I am tremendously pleased to announce that the ASC Study Guide for Richard III is now available for purchase online! We’ve got lots of juicy information for you in this one, stuffed as this play is with amazing language, fascinating characters, and active staging requirements.

As usual, I have a ten-page preview for your preliminary enjoyment. This Study Guide includes the following:

  • The Basics: Getting your students on their feet, working with iambic pentameter, paraphrasing, exploring rhetoric, and turning your classroom into an early modern stage.
  • Line Assignments: A way to give your students ownership over a small section of text, which they will use in further language-based activities and staging explorations.
  • Rhetoric: Stichomythia. Quick, back-and-forth dialogue characterizes some of the play’s most memorable scenes. How does Shakespeare use this device to engage the audience’s affections?
  • Perspectives: Cursing — No, not that kind of cursing. This activity goes to the heart of what power a play can invest in words. Does Margaret really bring down the House of York with her invective language, or does she merely prophesy what was already destined to occur? Your students will explore some of Shakespeare’s most inventive insults and deliciously antagonistic vitriol to determine the relationship between language and fate.
  • Staging Directions: Richard III has some of Shakespeare’s most explicit and detailed stage directions, uncommon for the early modern stage. Your students will explore what information those directions offer versus the information embedded in the text of the play itself.
  • Perspectives: Richard’s Reputation. What was the historical reality of Richard III’s reign, where did Shakespeare get his ideas about crookbacked Dick from, and how can an actor use this information in performance?
  • Staging Challenges: Haunting Richard and Helping Richmond. Your students will explore ways of bringing Richard III‘s supernatural elements to life.
  • Textual Variants: While the 1623 Folio is the longer text and the version more closely related to Shakespeare’s sources, the earlier quartos may reflect changes made for the stage or while the company was touring the provinces. Your students will explore the transmission of text and how those alterations can change the overall impression of the play.
  • Rhetoric: Richard and the Audience. In Richard III, Shakespeare created one of his most enduringly memorable characters, and Richard’s relationship with the audience is critical to his legacy. But how does Shakespeare craft that relationship?
  • A guide to producing a 1-hour version of the play in your classroom

And that completes the set! All of the Study Guides for our 2011-2012 artistic year are now complete, and you can preview any of them before purchasing your downloadable PDF. We also provide hard copies to educators who attend our Teacher Seminars — join us next month for Much Ado about Nothing and Richard III. Teachers who bring students to matinees can receive download access by contacting Ben Ratkowski.

My next task (already in-progress) is to update last year’s guides for Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, The Comedy of Errors, and As You Like It with the newly expanded Basics section. Once I’ve completed the upgrade, I’ll move on to the Study Guides for the 2012-2013 artistic year. What will those be? I can tell you… next week! Artistic Director and Co-Founder Jim Warren will be announcing the 2012-2013 lineup tomorrow night, before the opening of Much Ado about Nothing, and after that, I’ll be able to detail which of them will be our school matinee and Study Guide shows. Stay tuned next week for that information — or, join us at 7pm Saturday night and hear it from Jim!