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Serious actors, no director, one rehearsal, in a bar. Practical advice from the players & a complete producer's field guide.
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158 backers pledged $8,005 to help bring this project to life.

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Shakespeare's theatre was a madhouse. Let's do that. 

It's ready: a complete guide for making Shakespeare right: in bars, with no director, and only one rehearsal. 

Why do this?

Because most conventional Shakespeare is bad. And it doesn't have to be. It’s a square peg/round hole problem: to put one of Shakespeare’s plays in a modern theatre, you have to round off the corners. The bits we cut off are not incidental. They mattered to Shakespeare. They matter to me. 

The theatre Shakespeare wrote for was a madhouse: the actors barely rehearsed, and had no director. They maybe never read the whole play. The audience was sweaty, drinking, loud; the event, public, social, unpredictable. The line between audience and stage was hazy at best. 

You can build that madhouse. You can have the Shakespeare that Shakespeare intended. You'll need a hammer - not only to build, but also to tear down the modern crap in your way.

I've written that hammer.  

Cover Design for Volume 1
Cover Design for Volume 1
Cover Design for Volume 2
Cover Design for Volume 2

It is based on the work of the Back Room Shakespeare Project, which began in Chicago in 2011. We reach past the words Shakespeare wrote to the purpose he wrote them for. We use the old blueprints, serve the old priorities — because the words are not the plays; the plays happened in the playhouse. That’s what matters. Get past the words that were written to the play that was intended. It is a sequel to the underground classic: My Life With the Shakespeare Cult.

This work is part of a movement. It's happening in Chicago, New York, LA, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, New Jersey, Albuquerque, Utah, and more. The movement deserves a fair shake - it deserves a treatment that will represent it with clarity, accuracy, and love. 

The movement loves you. (Collage by Courtney Abbot.)
The movement loves you. (Collage by Courtney Abbot.)

The book is in two volumes. 

Volume 1, Part One: Elements of the Style is advice from the players. Their hard-won knowledge will be useful to you whether you work in a Playhouse style, or in any other: how to prepare, how to approach the text, how to rehearse, and how to stand naked in front of an audience with Shakespeare’s words in one hand, nothing in the other, lighting yourself on fire. 

Volume 1, Part Two: Loveletters is a series of loveletters from the trenches: interviews with the actors who have kept the fires bright for eight years. They are loose and rangy, giving different portraits of different people who care about the same things in different ways. They contradict one another, like people do. 

Volume 2: Field Guide is a field guide for building your own Shakespeare cult. It will help you structure and run an Oldschool process that will work for Shakespeare. It’s adapted from the field guide the Project hands to all of our Captains. I hope the field guide is complete enough to be useful, and also incomplete enough to be useful: because a good tool can be used for many things.

It's written in two volumes so that the field guide can fit in your pocket - and so that you won't look like a nerd holding it at your one rehearsal. You'll look like a freaking anarchist, with a slim little volume of weaponizable propaganda. 

Pick up the hammer. You'll be downright amazed at what you can destroy with it. 

The book will print by July 1st, 2019. 

Risks and challenges

Shakespeare in bars is sweeping the country. Not all of it is serious. We have a very limited window of opportunity in which professionals and Shakespeare lovers are going to decide what they think of it: whether it's a gimmick or here to stay. It is absolutely crucial that this book be printed now. This is why I am not waiting for an editor and a traditional publishing process.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 7 or more About US$ 7

    Letterpress Thank You Card

    A classy little thank you card from me, hand-pressed in Chicago.

    Includes:
    • Letterpress Thank You Card
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    Blueprints for a Shakespeare Cult

    Get an early copy of the books!

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    Signed Copy of the Books

    Get two two-volume set it straight off the presses, with your choice of dedication.
    Packaged in a handsome slipcover, it's a good tool and a handsome gift.

    Includes:
    • Blueprints for a Shakespeare Cult, signed & dedicated.
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    Signed Complete Set: all 3 Volumes

    In addition to the two-volume set of practical advice and field guide, get My Life with the Shakespeare Cult, the manifesto that lays out the argument for why this kind of work should be done at all.

    All three volumes signed, with your choice of dedication.
    Blueprints comes packaged in a handsome slipcover; it's a good tool and a handsome gift.

    Includes:
    • Blueprints for a Shakespeare Cult, signed & dedicated.
    • My Life with the Shakespeare Cult, signed & dedicated.
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    Leather Captain's Journal

    A limited edition refillable leather journal, perfect for real world use and abuse.

    The Captain's journal is custom-etched with a minimalist design. Tucked neatly and securely inside is your Field Guide (Volume 2 of Blueprints for a Shakespeare Cult), along with a custom-printed notebook.

    Leatherwork by Tactile Craftworks.

    Refillable with standard traveler's notebook size notebooks, the Captain's Journal will last for years to come, for all manner of conspiracy and scheme.

    Includes Volume 1: Loveletters, separately.

    Includes:
    • Blueprints for a Shakespeare Cult
    • Leather Captain's Journal
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    Pledge US$ 385 or more About US$ 385

    Cult Starter Package

    Everything you need to start your own Shakespeare Cult.

    On top of 5 signed copies of Blueprints for a Shakespeare Cult and 5 copies of its predecessor, My Life With the Shakespeare Cult (which lays out the philosophy behind the practice), sit down with me for two in-depth videoconferences with me as you start your own Shakespeare Cult (or work on sharpening the one you already have). I will coach you on producing your first (or your tenth!) show, answer your questions, and help you anticipate the challenges unique to your location and your crew. Together we will structure ambitions into achievable goals, and values into practical processes.

    Includes:
    • Blueprints for a Shakespeare Cult, signed & dedicated.
    • My Life with the Shakespeare Cult, signed & dedicated.
    • 1 Hour Personalized Coaching Session
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Funding period

- (28 days)