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English 521: Course description

M. Best

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The course

The focus of the course will be the analysis of representative Shakespeare plays as they are illuminated by performance. The course will involve the discussion of the theoretical questions that underlie performance and performance criticism through examples dealing with both stage and film. In the process we will explore differences between the approaches of critics and performers, and will experience some "hands-on" work with digital archives of productions and the way that materials of this kind can be used to develop critical arguments about the plays. If possible, there will be some field work involving attendance at a production at Bard on the Beach in Vancouver, interacting with the director and actors.

Rationale

A significant sub-discipline of Shakespeare studies involves the analysis of Shakespeare's plays as they are illuminated by performance. Whole series of critical works are based on stage histories of the plays; many universities offer courses offered on Shakespeare on film, while over a hundred professional theatre companies in North America focus on the performance of Shakespeare This course will engage theoretical questions that underlie performance and performance criticism. It will look at examples of criticism of Shakespeare in performance, involving both stage and film productions; will consider the differences between the critics' and performers' approaches; and will consider the potential for digitised archives of productions. At least four plays will be discussed. If possible, the course will involve field work where students attend a local production (ideally at Bard on the Beach in Vancouver), interacting with the director and actors.

Assignments

  1. One seminar paper on a specific topic as applied to one of the plays, or one critique of a performance (30%);
  2. One extended essay illustrated by graphic or multimedia materials (70%).
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This page last updated on 9 May 2005. © Michael Best, 2005.