program info


Why do we value the works of William Shakespeare?  Why, 400 years after his birth, are his plays still the most produced in the world?  Why have so many art forms (operas, ballets, novels, films, paintings) borrowed directly and indirectly from his words and stories?  Why do we NEED Shakespeare?  This class will tackle these and other questions.  We will create a framework for accessibility by dissecting the texts and images of this master of theatrical invention.  We will cross disciplines to study significant works of cinema adapted from his plays.  Through a series of lectures, workshops, seminars, and performance exercises, we will develop both critical perspective on and practical understanding of Shakespeare.  Since The Winter’s Tale will be produced on campus during the fall quarter, as part of a residency by the Seattle Shakespeare Company, students will have a unique opportunity to observe the stage director at work as they learn about the play from observation of rehearsals and production.

Questions that will form the basis of our learning goals:

  •  What are the important features of Shakespeare’s language?

  •  What knowledge of performance is necessary in order to fully understand Shakespeare’s plays?  What is the connection of performance—staging, design, acting – to play analysis?

  • What impact does period and place have in the production of Shakespeare’s plays?

  • What are some of the great productions of Shakespeare’s plays and what distinguishes them from others?

  •  In what ways does Shakespeare’s influence extend beyond the plays?

  •  In what ways do the aesthetic differences between film and dramatic forms affect our understanding of  Shakespeare?

  • What kinds of adjustments have filmmakers made in order to adapt Shakespeare’s plays to the screen?

Required reading

Shakespeare.  Twelfth Night (Arden Shakespeare edition, ISBN: 1904271154);
    The Winter’s Tale (Arden, ISBN: 1903436354);
    Titus Andronicus (Arden, ISBN 1903436052);
    Hamlet (Arden, ISBN: 1904271332);
Greenblatt, Stephen. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare;
Other plays and web readings TBA