Click around our cover to learn more about each image.

Table of Contents

The mere concept of cutting content, lines, and characters from well-known or classical plays might seem hubristic or sacrilegious to the outside observer, but not only is such cutting common, it is often necessary. This introductory chapter speaks to the simple question of why texts might need to be cut at all.
Chapter 1: The Text is a Lie: Textual History and Why It Matters
Theater artists through time and around the world have adapted, changed, and cut texts. Do you feel guilty axing a famous moment from a play you didn't write? Don't! You're in line with millenia of tradition.
Chapter 2: Start Here: The Three Questions
Before you start cutting, you should make sure you have deep answers to three crucial questions:
  • Who is my audience?
  • What is my story?
  • How much time do I have?
Chapter 3: The Cutter’s Toolkit Part One: Materials
What items do you need to hand? How do you pick a text to start from?
Chapter 4: The Cutter’s Toolkit Part Two: Strategies and Considerations
Quick tips for getting started, as well as a deeper dive on common mistakes.
Chapter 5: Cut to the Quick: Character-Specific Cuts
Cutting can help you feature or minimize a character. It can facilitate actor doubling or enrich the ensemble.
Chapter 6: Don’t Cut That!: The Mechanics of Cuts
Before you cut something you'll regret later, make sure you understand how each line contributes to the whole.
Chapter 7: Cut to the Moment: Production-Specific Cuts
By comparing different cuts, we can see how the choices cutters make contribute to a production's specific goals and context.
Chapter 8: Scissors, Paste, and Negotiations: Communicating Cuts
How can you break it to Hamlet that he doesn't get to say "To be or not to be"? Does your audience feel cheated when they learn you haven't given them the whole play (not that such a thing exists)?
Appendix 1: Legal Concerns
You can't cut just any play. We're here to help you stay out of trouble.
Appendix 2: Cut Activities
Practical exercises in cutting
Appendix 3: Further Reading
A collection of other resources to guide your cutting process.