Pivotal Lines in Shakespeare and Others defines a pivotal line as "a moment in the script that serves as a pathway into the larger play … a magnet to which the rest of the play, scenes before and after, adheres." Homan offers his personal choices of such lines in five plays by Shakespeare and works by Beckett, Brecht, Pinter, Shepard, and Stoppard. Drawing on his own experience in the theatre as actor and director and on campus as a teacher and scholar, he pairs a Shakespearean play with one by a modern playwright as mirrors for each other. One reviewer calls his approach "ground-breaking." Another observes that his "experience with the particular plays he has chosen is invaluable" since it allows us to find "a wedge into such iconic texts." Academics and students alike will find this volume particularly useful in aiding their own discovery of a pivotal line or moment in the experience of reading about, watching, or performing in a play. 


Chapter 1: Hamlet: "Who’s there?"

Chapter 2: Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead: "Where we went wrong was

getting on a boat."

Chapter 3: The Taming of the Shrew: "Kate: Where did you study all this goodly speech?

Petruchio: It is extempore, from my mother wit."

Chapter 4: Pinter, Old Times: "No, I’ll run it myself tonight."

Chapter 5: A Midsummer Night’s Dream: "And grows to something of great constancy."

Chapter 6: Shepard, True West: "So, they take off after each other straight into an endless

black prairie."

Chapter 7: The Comedy of Errors: "And here we wander in illusions." and "I’ll Entertain the

Offered Fallacy."

Chapter 8: Beckett, Waiting for Godot: "Tell him … [he hesitates] … tell him you saw me and

that … [he hesitates] … that you saw me."

Chapter 9: Brecht and Weill, The Threepenny Opera: "Reprieved"

Chapter 10: King Lear: "Do you see this? Look on her! Look, her lips."

Conclusions: A Manual for Pivotal Lines and the Audience