In the early 1590s a theatrical legend was born. Ever since Richard Gloucester first limped on to the early modern stage, this virtuoso in evil has stretched the greatest of actors and mesmerized audiences around the globe. This Handbook offers students, performers and general readers alike an entertaining introduction to the rich history and exciting performance potential of Shakespeare's early masterpiece. An extensive commentary focuses on the challenges to actors and directors in putting Richard III on stage and encourages the reader to engage imaginatively with Shakespeare's words. Paul Prescott offers a lively and theatrically sensitive description of Richard III as it unfolds, line by line and moment by moment, within the charged atmosphere of live performance. The Handbook also includes: - a concise account of the work's textual history and dramatic influences - extracts from cultural and historical source materials - an evocative survey of four hundred years of stage history, ranging from first performances to Sir Ian McKellen's interpretation at the close of the twentieth century - a thematic exploration of critical approaches to the play - a guide to film and television adaptations, from Frederick Warde's 1912 silent film version to Al Pacino's Looking for Richard. This is a comprehensive and wide-ranging study of one of Shakespeare's most popular and theatrically thrilling plays.