T C 357 • Shakespeare in Performance - W
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
This course, a discussion and participation class with a substantial writing component, emphasizes Shakespeare as a man of the theater, a player as well as a creator of many roles, a member of an acting troupe. To read his plays merely as literary texts, rather than as scripts, is to miss something crucial about them. Students are not expected to be theater majors, but should be interested in aspects of performance staging, acting, directing, and so on that help us to understand both the texts of Shakespearean drama and their historical and theatrical context.
We will study eight plays, reading and viewing them in multiple versions in order to see how productions work as translations/interpretations. We will also work with videos of the series "Playing Shakespeare" by John Barton, former RSC director, and with Actors from the London Stage (AFTLS), a troupe of five classically trained British actors from England who will be in residency at UT for a week In October. Classes will be primarily detailed discussion of the day's assignment and the productions, both live and on video. Class attendance and active participation are required. Students will attend screenings of plays (and live theater when possible), participate in two groups that are responsible for presenting plays to the class, and engage fully in the residency.
During the week of Oct. 9, I will coordinate the week-long residency of AFTLS, a special opportunity for us to work with British Shakespearean actors. During the residency, the actors will teach about 30 classes, present two "one-handers" (hour long one-person shows), and perform Hamlet (with just the five actors playing all the parts) both on campus and at Winedale. Students in this class will help with arrangements, attend workshops and performances, and get to know these talented actors both professionally and personally. Students who want to derive maximum benefit from the residency (and the course) should keep that week as clear as possible of other commitments. You should enroll in this course only if you are excited at the prospect of participating in this special visit and other Shakespeare in performance events.
About the Professor
Alan Friedman, who holds a doctorate from the University of Rochester and an endowed professorship, is a former Director of Plan II, the founder and director of the English Department's Oxford Summer Program, and faculty advisor to the student organization Spirit of Shakespeare. He specializes in twentieth-century British and American literature, although he regularly teaches a Shakespeare seminar for Plan II. Among his five authored books, his most recent is Fictional Death and the Modernist Enterprise, which concerns cultural and literary attitudes toward death and the radical changes they underwent around the turn of the twentieth century and, again, at midcentury. He is just completing a book on performance in the writings of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. His six edited books include Situating College English: Pedagogy and Politics at a Contemporary American University, about hot cultural and educational issues and life in the English Department at UT, and Beckett in Black and Red: The Translations for Nancy Cunard's Negro. He has taught at universities in England, Ireland, and France. He is an occasional chess, bridge, and ping pong player, is an avid squash player, and, with his family, takes walks, attends theater, and travels.
Assignments consist of (1) production journals for each play; (2) two essays of 4-5pages (one based on the group project, the other on A Midsummer Night's Dream in production); and (3) a term paper of 10-12 pages on a mutually agreed on a topic derived from the work of the course. Term-paper drafts should be submitted for comment and critique no later than the first class after Thanksgiving. Completed papers are due at a final session, which occurs at the time scheduled for the final exam, when students also distribute copies of a one-page abstract of the term paper and present it to the class.
Journals (20%); short papers (15% each); term paper (30%); quality and quantity of class participation, including group project and work with AFTLS (20%). Grades will be as earned: no curve.
David Bevington, ed., The Essential Shakespeare
John Barton, Playing Shakespeare