E s379M • Shakespeare in Performance
Shakespeares plays were written to entertain a wide audience, from the groundlings who stood in the pit for the price of a pint to the aristocrats who occupied (uncomfortable) seats in the galleries. This summer he will entertain us. We will read and attend performances of five plays at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-on-Avon, at the Globe Theatre in London, and possibly also at the National Theater. We dont yet know exactly which plays will be on, but we have heard that we will be treated to some of the major tragedies. In the Globe Theatre we will experience the plays in an authentic reconstruction of Shakespeares own playhouse, probably with an all-male cast wearing Elizabethan undergarments. This experience should stimulate our discussion of the relation of the theatrical text to its historical and physical context. In Stratford, on the other hand, we may see Hamlet in Victorian or modern dress, which will lead us to consider the perennial modernity of Shakespeares scripts for performance. If we are lucky, we will meet with some leading actors and directors, who will help us to understand the kinds of theatrical choices that shape a particular production. Finally, we will visit the major sites in Stratford: Shakespeares birthplace, his wife Ann Hathaways cottage, and Holy Trinity Church where he was christened and buried.
Two-page paper on every play studied, 50%
Quiz on every play, 25%
Short (4-page) final project, 25%
Borderline grades decided by attendance and participation.