Miles Gregory on different editions of ‘Twelfth Night’.


So there’s a First Folio kept at Auckland Library First Folio is the first complete works of Shakespeare published in 1623 by some of his friends and it’s a very rare book Now the First Folio’s interesting because it’s the closest we can get to Shakespeare’s own hand pretty much There are some Quartos, that are earlier versions but to give a succinct answer to your question well, as a director, whenever I approach a play; I’m asked to direct it or I want to direct it the first thing I like to do is prepare my own edition and that for me means quite literally going to the earliest recorded sources In the case of ‘Twelfth Night’, it was first published in the Folio so the Folio is the only early source that is available and I literally type up the play from scratch so I type up everything, the whole thing I type up and that means that I handle every word in it and in the case of ‘Twelfth Night’ there were some quite significant changes to the text for example there’s a part called Fabian who was a low character associated with the court of Olivia and I merged Fabian and Feste together to create one character called Feste and there’s a lot of other changes that you make when you’re editing and every editor does it! So you will never see a, perhaps it’s hard to get your head around but there is no definitive Shakespeare So when you talk about ‘Hamlet’ you know, there are four different editions of ‘Hamlet’ and they’re all wildly different so there is no stable text for Shakespeare Even ‘Twelfth Night’ is prepared by compositors who made their own changes to the speech prefixes and to some of the spellings it’s very hard so every director of Shakespeare has to find their own edition and you can use modern editions but there you’re dealing with someone else’s choices and I don’t see why I should trust a modern editor any more than I trust my own judgement particularly as it’s going to be me directing the play not that editor, so stuff them frankly! I’d rather do it myself and I was very lucky to be able to use the First Folio here at Auckland Library to do that I hope that answers your question

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