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Shakespeare:Performance History,1660 to the Present

ENGL 235.301
instructor(s):
TR 10:30-12

This course will see how theatre artists have built theatre pieces from Shakespeare's scripts, starting from the time that the theatres reopened during the Restoration, when theatrical aesthetics had changed and the continuity of theatrical tradition from Shakespeare's own theatre had been broken. We will consider how different social, political, and theatrical cultures re-envisioned the scripts and how they work in theatre, and how this different vision of the scripts affected what they became, and how they worked, in the theatre of the day. Among the plays we will consider, across different centuries and performances, are "Hamlet", "King Lear", "As You Like It", and "The Taming of the Shrew". Among the topics we will consider are dramatic adaptation (by Nahum Tate, Colley Cibber, David Garrick, and others); changing aesthetics of acting, scenography, etc.; changing notions of character and biography; changing social and theatrical codes (e.g. "boy heroine" plays in theatre that, unlike Shakespeare's, employed actresses rather than boy actors in women's roles); changing political meanings; and contemporary directorial strategies to subvert or radically transform the scripts in performance. In sum, this course will examine, not what Shakespeare means but (to employ Terence Hawkes's phrase), what we mean by Shakespeare--in this case, what people have meant by Shakespeare in the theatres of their times.

Note: English majors should not take English 101, but rather English 36 or 235. English 235, taken along with any medieval literature course may be used to satisfy the usual English 201 requirement.