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This book is a compact guide to reading plays, and to the art and techniques of drama. Ranging from classical Greece to modern Drama and performance, but with particular emphasis on the playwrights (including Shakespeare) who are most widely taught and performed, the Handbook covers the whole range of literary, aesthetic, and political questions attending drama, from theatre designs and acting styles to audience composition and editing printed texts. Looking closely at both text and performance, successive sections give clear and detailed information about the conventions of playtexts, the histories of genre, performance spaces, and theatre personnel, as well as current theatre practices. Each chapter also provides an appropriate technical and critical vocabulary, conveniently gathered in a full, indexed glossary. A final section, dealing with drama essays and exams, includes sample student essays, and the bibliography includes targeted further reading as well as extensive guides to playwrights in print and plays on film. Lucid, practical, and thorough, this book is an invaluable resource for anyone who reads plays.