Module Information

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

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 x 2 Hour Lectures
Seminar 10 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1. Essay (2500 words)  60%
Semester Exam 14 Hours   2. Group presentation/performed essay (equivalent to 2000 words)  40%
Supplementary Assessment Essay (to new title) (2500 words)  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.

2. Situate Shakespeare's plays in their cultural, historical and political contexts and develop an awareness of how subsequent performances of these plays reveal and create new meanings and interpretations.

3. Analyse how specific and distinct production choices in contemporary performances of these texts enable the revealing and creation of new meanings and interpretations.

4. Produce organized, coherently structured and critically engaged written and oral presentation work.

Brief description

This module provides an encounter with a range of Shakespeare’s plays, covering genre and chronology in terms of Shakespeare’s output. The module offers a focused consideration of the performance of Shakespeare’s plays, with a particular emphasis on how contemporary productions of Shakespeare’s works reveal and create new meanings and interpretations. The module entails a detailed study of the ways in which different directors and companies have interpreted Shakespeare’s play texts for performance – including intercultural interpretations and feminist approaches. More historic productions and interpretations will considered where appropriate. Where possible, live viewings of Shakespeare productions will be included, and a strong emphasis is placed on screening filmed documentation of Shakespeare productions, researching past productions, retrieving and considering reviews and thinking about potential ways of transposing a Shakespeare play text to the stage.


Course delivery:

Lecture: 10 x 2 hours
Seminars / Tutorials: 10 x 1 hour

The module begins with an introduction to Shakespeare’s age – covering issues such as the succession crisis, the age of discovery, religious dissent, the status of theatre – and then specifically investigates at least six and no more than eight Shakespeare plays. The chosen plays reflect different genres (tragedy, comedy, festive, romance, Roman, history) and are considered through close textual analysis and discussion of selected contemporary productions. Each play will be read alongside an accompanying critical reading which offers insight into the play’s critical reception and/or production history. The module offers the opportunity to gain a discriminating understanding of the ways in which differing directorial approaches and production choices (relating to acting, scenic design, lighting, costume, space and proxemics, music, sound and audience relation) can construct quite distinct and different meanings and interpretations.

Indicative content:

Week One: Shakespeare’s Age
Week Two: Early Comedy and The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Week Three: Villainy and the Player King in Richard III
Week Four: The Outsider in The Merchant of Venice
Week Five: Titus Andronicus: 'When will this fearful slumber have an end?'
Week Six: King Lear and his Daughters
Week Seven: Antony and Cleopatra and Self Mythologizing
Week Eight: Henry V and a theatre of National Epic
Week Nine: A Winter’s Tale: Regeneration, Renewal and Death
Week Ten: Comedy, Romance, History, Tragedy, Romans: The Instability of Genre through History and Performance


1. To introduce students to the range and variety of Shakespeare’s dramatic works and to the cultural, historical and political contexts in which they were written and initially staged.
2. To develop students’ understandings of how Shakespeare’s dramatic works have been interpreted and produced according to differing aesthetic and critical criteria.
3. To consolidate students’ abilities to describe and analyze how specific production choices reveal and create new meanings and interpretations of Shakespeare’s works.

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 bibliographic resources and accessing Blackboard for course materials.
Personal Development and Career planning
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 Through independent research for written assessment (essay), group presentation and oral contribution/presentation in class. Using electronic research and bibliographic resources.
Subject Specific Skills The analysis of play texts in by classroom discussion, group presentation and written assessment. A detailed knowledge of Shakespearean drama (by genre and chronology) 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 group presentation in small groups.


This module is at CQFW Level 5