Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Shakespeare in Performance
Academic Year
Semester 1
Successful completion of Part One
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 x 2 hour lecture/seminars plus additional optional viewing


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2500 word Essay  60%
Semester Exam 7 Hours   Presentation and Documentation (equivalent to 2000 words)  40%
Supplementary Assessment 2500 word Essay (to a new title)  60%
Supplementary Assessment Presentation Plan and Documentation  (equivalent to 2000 words)  40%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Critically evaluate and interpret a range of play texts under consideration and be able to communicate the implications of staging these texts;

2. Understand the cultural, historical and political frameworks and contexts in which the plays are set and develop an awareness of how subsequent performances of these play texts reveal and create new meanings and interpretations.

3. Develop an understanding of the various elements that contribute towards creating specific and distinct production choices in relation to Shakespeare's plays (scenic design, sound, music, characterization, use of space, costume, directorial concept, casting);

4. Demonstrate an understanding of the forms and practices studied through written assignments and oral presentations.

Brief description

This module encompasses a range of Shakespeare's plays (covering genre and chronology in terms of Shakespeare's output) with a particular emphasis on production history from the Elizabethan period to the present day. Besides offering a focused consideration of the performance of Shakespeare's plays, the module entails a detailed study of the way in which different directors and theatre companies have interpreted Shakespeare's play texts for perforamce - be those all male companies, feminist approaches, intercultural interpretations, Elizabethan, Jacobean, eighteenth and nineteenth century interpretations and beyond, as gleaned from primary material. In addition to watching as much live Shakespeare as possible (through arranged theatre trips and departmental productions) there is a strong emphasis on screening film versions of Shakespeare during the module, researching past productions, retrieving past reviews and thinking about potential ways of transposing a given interpretation of a Shakespeare play text to the stage successfully.


Following an initial introduction to Shakespeare's age - covering issues such as the succession crisis, the age of discobery, religious dissent, the status of theatre - at least six and no more than eight of Shakespeare's plays are specifically investigated. The chosen plays reflect different genres (tragedy, comedy, festive, romance, Roman, history) and are considered through close textual analysis and research into their past production histories. The module thus offers the opportunity to gain a discriminating understanding of the ways in which directorial concepts, acting, scenic design, lighting, costume, space and proxemics, music, sound and audience relation can all be used to draw out quite distinct and different meanings and dramatic tones.


1. Lecture 1 - Shakespeare's Age

2. Seminar 1 - Shakespeare's Theatre


3. Lecture 2 - Early Comedy and The Two Gentlemen of Verona

4. Seminar 2 - Implausible Endings or Sinister Undercurrents in The Two Gentlemen of Verona


5. Lecture 3 - Villainy and the Player King in Richard III

6. Seminar 3 - Talking to the Audience and Winning Sympathy in Richard III


7. Lecture 4 - The Outsider in The Merchant of Venice

8. Seminar 4 - From Comic Villain to Persecuted Victim - Changing attitudes to Shylock


9. Lecture 5 - Mad, Bad or Sad in Titus Andronicus

10. Seminar 5 - Stage Violence and the Problem of Tone in Titus Andronicus


11. Lecture 6 - King Lear and his Daughters

12. Seminar 6 - "Stages" and Spaces of Learning in King Lear


13. Lecture 7 - Antony and Cleopatra and Self Mythologizing

14. Seminar 7 - Macabre Humour in Antony and Cleopatra


15. Lecture 8 - Henry V and the Rites of Passage

16. Seminar 8 - Jingoism, Patriotism or Cynicism in Henry V


17. Lecture 9 - A Winter's Tale: Regeneration, Renewal and Death

18. Seminar 9 - Magic Realism, Wish Fulfillment and Coming of Age in A Winter's Tale


19. Lecture 10 - Comedy, Romance, History, Tragedy, Romans: The Instability of Genre through History and Performance

20. Seminar 10 - The polysemic potential of staging Shakespeare

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Written: clear articulation of ideas and analysis in written assessments. Verbal: class contribution, presentation and interaction.
Improving own Learning and Performance By independent research; tutor feedback on written work and oral contribution in class; interaction of peers during seminar presentation; developing time/work management skills; reflecting upon presentational skills and other written work.
Information Technology For research purposes (for written assessments and class presentations). Use, for example of PowerPoint for class presentation. Using electronic research and bibliograhic resources and accessing Blackboard for course materials.
Personal Development and Career planning Personal development and career planning skills will be developed through the module's emphasis on presentation; in addition, many of the generic skills developed through work on this module will have significant transferability to a wide range of career contexts.
Problem solving By critical engagement (verbal and written) with intellectual concepts raised by plays within the context of their production and the contexts of subsequent performances.
Research skills By preparation for written assessment (essay and exam) and oral contribution/presentation in class.
Subject Specific Skills The analysis of play-text both by classroom discussion, group presentation and written assessment. A detailed knowledge of Shakespearean drama (by genre and chronology0 as text and in performance and an understanding of such performance in a variety of social, political, cultural and aesthetic contexts will be facilitated.
Team work By class presentation in small groups.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Adamson, S. (2001) Shakespeare's Dramatic Language: A Guide Arden Shakespeare Primo search Alexander, C. and Wells, S. (2000) Shakespeare and Race CUP Primo search Bate, J. and Jackson, R. (1996) The Oxford Illustrated History of Shakespeare on Stage Oxford Primo search Bogdanov, M. (2003) Shakespeare: The Director's Cut Capercaille Primo search Bristol, Michael (1996) Big Time Shakespeare Routledge Primo search Dessen, A. (1992) Titus Andronicus Shakespeare in Performance, MUP Primo search Ford Davies, O. (2007) Performing Shakespeare Nick Hern Books Primo search Gurr, A. (1970) The Shakespearean Stage: 1574-1642 CUP Primo search Holmes, J. (2004) Merely Players? Routledge Primo search Mangan, M. (1996) A Preface to Shakespeare's Comedies Longman Primo search Mangan, M. (1991) A Preface to shakespeare's Tragedies Longman Primo search O'Connor, J. (2005) Shakespearean Afterlives: The Characters with a Life of their Own Icon Books Primo search Palfrey, S. (2005) Doing Shakespeare Arden Shakespeare Primo search Parsons, K. and Mason, P. (1995) Shakespeare in Performance Primo search Schafer, E. (1998) Ms-Directing Shakespeare: Women Direct Shakespeare Women's Press Ltd Primo search Scott, M. (1988) Shakespeare and the Modern Dramatist Macmillan Primo search Shaughnessy, R. (2000) Shakespeare in Performance Macmillan New Casebooks Primo search Smith, P. (1995) Social Shakespeare Macmillan Primo search Thomson, P. (1992) Shakespeare's Theatre Routledge Primo search Walter, G. (1991) Shakespeare's Comedies Longman Critical Readers Primo search Wells, S. (1997) Shakespeare and the Theatre: An Anthology of Criticism OUP Primo search Wells, S. and Stanton, S. (2002) The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Stage Cambridge Primo search Wells, Stanley (1997) Shakespeare in the Theatre Oxford Primo search Wiggins, M. (2000) Shakespeare and the Drama of His Time OUP Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5