Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Shakespeare in Performance

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Theatre Studies

DESCRIPTION Shakespeare's plays will be discussed as a performative rather than a literary phenomenon. The study-unit will look at how and why different eras performed Shakespeare differently. Through close discussion of seminal performances from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries the study-unit will explore how theatre-makers make textual, dramaturgical, and ideological choices every time they engage with a Shakespearean text.

Students will be asked to survey a small number of contemporary performances of Shakespeare's plays through available video documentation (or live performance when available) and engage in a critical analysis of the performances.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit provides students with an overview of the different ways that Shakespeare has been performed through the ages, but especially from the mid-twentieth century onwards. Theatre-makers' interpretations of and interventions on the texts are discussed through different analytical tools for what they can tell about (1) the texts themselves, (2) the theatrical practice of the directors or performers, as well as (3) the specific theatrical traditions and political systems that shape these performances.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

(a) Explain fundamental knowledge about play-texts by Shakespeare;
(b) Demonstrate an understanding of the place of Shakespeare within contemporary theatre and performance cultures;
(c) Evaluate the environmental, critical, and theoretical frames of reference within which Shakespearean performance operates;
(d) Develop a familiarity with the work of key contemporary practitioners, including directors and performers.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

(a) Work autonomously and in groups on research and presentation tasks;
(b) Develop a critical outlook towards artistic and cultural representation;
(c) Communicate and present own research and opinion, both in debate and discussion, and in presentation and writing.

Main Text/s:

- S. Bennett, Performing Nostalgia: Shifting Shakespeare and the Contemporary Performance (London: Routledge, 1995)
- D. Kennedy, Looking at Shakespeare: A Visual History of Twentieth-Century Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001)
- T. Hawkes, ed., Alternative Shakespeares,Volume 2 (London: Routledge, 1996)
- R. Shaughnessy (ed.), Shakespeare in Performance (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000)
- R. Shaughnessy, The Shakespeare Effect (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002)
- J.R. Brown, Shakespeare Dancing (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

Supplementary readings:

- D.J. Hopkins, City/stage/globe: Performance and Space in Shakespeare's London (London: Routledge, 2008)
- A. Noble, How to do Shakespeare (London: Routledge, 2010)
- S. Werner (ed.), New Directions in Renaissance Drama and Performance Studies (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)
- W.B. Worthen, Shakespeare and the Force of Modern Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Fieldwork and Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation (20 Minutes) SEM1 No 40%
Assignment SEM1 Yes 60%


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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.