Shakespeare: Text and Performance

Shakespeare in Performance:
Text and Performance

Course Syllabus and Information


July 20-Aug 7, 2014

1:00-4:00 M-F

University of Waterloo Stratford Campus

125 St. Patrick Street

Dr. Andrew Bretz

Department of Dramatic Arts

Brock University


Skype Office Hours: By Appointment

Skype ID: andrewbretz

Twitter: @AndrewBretz001

Facebook ID: andrew.bretz

Calendar Description and Course Number:

A historical, theoretical and analytical introduction to Shakespeare in performance, taught by a university professor, with guests from the Stratford Shakespeare Festival company. Focus will be on current Festival productions of Shakespeare. The class will meet for three hours per day, five afternoons a week, and will include attendance at Shakespeare productions.

Brock University:  DART 3P91

St. Jerome’s/University of Waterloo:  ENGL 364

University of Guelph:  THST*3260

University of Western Ontario:  ENGL 142G

University of Windsor:  ENGL 26-322


In this intensive course, we will be looking at four of Shakespeare’s plays:  Love’s Labour’s Lost, Hamlet, Pericles, and Taming of the Shrew, paying particular attention to the theatrical history of the plays. Theatre history is often overlooked in English courses, which tend to see the plays in terms of poetry, and in theatre courses, which tend to look at the plays in terms of present day performance choices. This course will seek to foreground how the plays are each a historically located product whose meaning is negotiated by actor, audience, director, manager, etc. Rather than a transhistorical, transcendent, unitary “meaning” or originary “intention,” plays are instantiations (either supportive or resistive) of dominant ideological systems through performance. The Stratford Festival will be central to this investigation as the economic and artistic concerns of the Festival over the past decades will be analyzed in relation to nationalist and classist discourses.

Major Themes of the Course:

  • OP (Original Practices)
  • Language
  • Theatre History
  • Stratford Identity

Texts (Readings and Performances):

Please have the following texts read by the first day of class:


  • Hamlet
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • Pericles
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost



Google Drive Folder Link


Ideally, please have these read before class begins. If that is not possible, please have them read by the time we take them up. Please see the schedule for details.

Bennett, Susan. “The Making of Theatre History.” Representing the Past: Essays in Performative Historiography. Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 2010. 63-83.

THEME:  Theatre History    

Lichtenfels, Peter “Shakespeare’s Language in the Theatre” Reading Shakespeare’s Dramatic Language: A Guide. London: Thomson Learning, 2007. 158-172.

THEME: Language   

Knowles, Ric. “From Nationalist to Multinational: The Stratford Festival, Free Trade and, The Discourses of Intercultural Tourism” Theatre Journal. 47.1 (Mar. 1995): 19.

THEME: Stratford Identity   

Malone, Toby. “‘Distract parcels in combined sums’: The Stratford Festival Archives’ Stage-Managerial Collections.” Canadian Theatre Review. 156. (Fall 2013), 66-71.

THEME: Language, Stratford Identity, Theatre History

Tiramani, Jenny. “Exploring Early Modern Stage and Costume Design.” Shakespeare’s Globe: A Theatrical Experiment. Eds. Christine Carson & Farah Karim-Cooper. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008. 57-65.


Topham, Sara and Marlis Schweitzer. “‘The first time I put on a Maggie Smith …’: The Role of Costuming in the Artistic Process of Actresses at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.” Canadian Theatre Review. 152. (Fall 2012), 32-37.

THEME: Stratford Identity, OP, Theatre History

nota bene regarding editions

Any editions of Shakespeare will be acceptable, however, not all editions are made for the same audiences and not every edition will be as useful as any other edition. For instance, Arden, Oxford World Classics, and Cambridge editions will be particularly useful for looking into textual instability and theatre history. The Cambridge Theatre History editions are obviously really useful for looking at theatre history. Pulp and general interest editions such as Dover Classics are only really useful for investigating textual instability (because they are usually poorly edited and show the textual fractures on the surface). If you are one of those new-fangled, tech-savvy, interwebs types, then you probably want to use the Internet Shakespeare Editions (ISE) out of University of Victoria. Don’t use the MIT Shakespeare page, if only because it is a word for word transcription of the Globe Shakespeare from the 1860s and there have been a lot (like, seriously… a LOT) of changes to the plays that editors have discovered since then. (For instance, Titus Andronicus has a different ending now than it did in the 1860s.)


Attending the performances of the Stratford Festival’s productions of Love’s Labour’s Lost, Hamlet, Pericles, and Taming of the Shrew is required for this course. Please come to class having read all four of the plays, so that we can address our critical eye to the productions.

The Festival has seats on hold for students for all of the plays. You will have to buy tickets, however, at the reduced rate of $25 per person. Please see the attached document from the Festival for details.


nota bene regarding performances

Also, since The Alchemist by Shakespeare’s drinking buddy, Ben Jonson, is playing, I personally suggest you go see that, but the Festival doesn’t have reduced prices for you with that production. Take advantage of your time here. See everything you can.



Short Writing Assignment (Choose one of:) 20
  • Archives & Shop Reflection Paper
  • Précis of Article
Interview Questions 10
Participation 10
Final Quiz 30
Scene Analysis 30

Short Writing Assignment

You have the choice of the form your short writing assignment will take. Either your assignment can be a precis of one of the articles that we will take up in class, in which case it is due the day that we take up the article, OR you may do a “Archives and Shop Reflection Paper.” Both of the assignments are described below. You must choose which of the two assignments you want to do by the end of the second day of class. You may choose by either waiting until the first day of classes or by following this link: Short Writing Assignment Choice Form. ( )


300-600 words (Various Due Dates)

A précis is an exposition, summary, or abridgement of another text, usually following the form of an essay. It should summarize the main arguments, evidence, and ideas presented within the primary text of study. In this case, the précis should also be evaluative, which means some extra research will be needed to fulfil the terms of the assignment. That is, an evaluative précis must evaluate the statements made in the primary text of study with an eye to the writer’s own understanding of the matter at hand. Is Ric Knowles right that Stratford is erasing its communist past? Is Toby Malone right that the archives at Stratford present a unique and understudied opportunity for scholarly research? You should always try to tie the article to the main themes of the course. You may choose to do a précis of only one of the additional readings.

The papers are due as follows:

  • Knowles (Monday 20)
  • Malone (Monday 20)
  • Bennett (Monday 27)
  • Lichetenfels (Tuesday 28)
  • Tiramani (Thursday 30)
  • Topham/Schweitzer (Thursday 30)

An evaluative rubric is below for your convenience.





Providing the title, author, etc. of the article accurately
Describing all key points and arguments in the paper, including a summary of the overall movement of the argument
Clearly representing the issue at hand, including the stakes for theatre and specifically the Stratford Festival


Use a specific example from the article to illuminate or complicate one of the major themes of the course.


Does this article prove what it sets out to prove?


Grammatically sound and in accordance with MLA guidelines (See MLA or OWL@Purdue for guidelines)




Archives & Shop Reflection Paper:

300-600 Words

The purpose of this assignment is for you to gain a deeper understanding of the behind-the-scenes workings of the Festival and its sense of institutional identity. For this assignment, you must synthesize your own research and experiences, as well as class lessons on the history of the Festival with the ongoing material history of the Festival, represented in the archives and costume shop. You have to be able to (a) describe the identity of the Festival as articulated in the choices made by Artistic Directors, directors, archivists, etc., in comparison to the materials that have been saved for future generations; (b) reflect on your own personal experiences with the Festival and the archives; (c) analyze how the Festival’s archival strategy relates to a larger course concept (for instance, Canadian National Identity); (d) evaluate the strengths or failures of the archives to represent the Festival’s identity.

This paper is due the Tuesday after we visit the Archives and Costume Shop (August 4).

As this is a bit of an unusual assignment, below you can find the evaluation rubric:





Describes at least three key aspects of the Festival (e.g. history, mission, goals, activities, services, organization)
Describes at least three key aspects of the archives and costume shop (e.g. scope, mission, resources, services, guiding principles, technology)


Describes student’s previous experiences with Stratford Festival
Reflects upon student’s experiences in the archives and costume shop. (What are some potential positive outcomes from this experience?)


Use a specific example from the archives and costume shop to illuminate at least one aspect of the Festival’s self-identity.


Identify at least one strength or weakness of the archives and costume shop in representing the identity of the Festival.


Grammatically sound and in accordance with MLA guidelines (See MLA or OWL@Purdue for guidelines)



(Form of rubric borrowed from WLU PS282B Community Service Learning Guidelines)


Interview Questions:

In this course, there will be a number of different interviews with Festival staff and talent. For each of the interviews, students will be asked to submit at least 5 questions for the interviewee before the interview begins. You can hand them in immediately before we begin speaking to the interviewee.The questions should show an understanding of the role of the interviewee within the Festival (e.g. “How does one go about marketing a lesser known play like Pericles?” for a marketing supervisor), the relationship of the interviewee to the play (e.g. “What material of previous versions of Hamlet is still held in the archives?” to an archivist) and any genuine questions that you may have for the person. The interviews that will take place will be a Q & A format, where I will act as moderator. Not everyone’s questions will be asked, but everyone must hand in the questions that they would like to ask.



Participation is going to be assessed based on participation in class discussion and general participation in the class. (To put it another way… it’s a participation grade… just participate in the class — show up, ask questions, engage the performances and the texts, and you should be fine.)


Final Quiz:

The Final Quiz will consist of questions based on in-class material including the interviews and the performances. It will consist of a short answer section and a short essay/writing assignment. It should not take more than one hour. It will be on the final day of classes (August 7).

Scene Analysis

1500-2000 words

Due August 14
  The scene analysis is intended to be a demonstration of your close reading skills along with your research skills. For this assignment you will be expected, first, to choose a scene from any of the plays that we are looking at. For the purposes of this assignment, a “scene” is understood to be any coherent section of dialogue of at least 150-200 lines. In cases where the scene you want to work on is actually longer than 150-200 lines (e.g. LLL 5.2, which is over 900 lines long), choose a section of the scene that fits naturally into approximately 150-200 lines.

  Once you have chosen a section or a whole scene, your task will be twofold: to show what the scene is doing within the play as a whole AND to show how individual language choices develop the scene. You are moving up, to the level of the play, and moving down, to the level of the word or the syllable.

  Do not summarize the scene. We’ve all read or seen the play. Instead, consider the relationship of the scene to the play as a whole, where “play” is understood as either a written text or as a performed text. That is, you can either situate the scene within the play where “play” is understood to indicate the mixture of rhetorical figures, thematic elements, and other characteristics that are the traditional aegis of “literary” analysis, OR you can situate the scene within the play where “play” is understood to indicate the intentions and motivations of characters, performance history, and staging conventions that are the traditional aegis of “dramatic” analysis. (Or do a bit of both, I’m not stopping you.) In either case, research is going to be necessary as you aren’t going to be able to produce, say, a performance history of Hamlet’s closet scene from common knowledge.

  When it comes to looking down to the level of the words, please consider the close reading skills that we will be working on in class. Bring things down to the sound of words and syllables. You might consider the ways in which the words can be performed and shaped by artists and how accents have changed (OP).

  In other words, there are a lot of different directions that you can go to make this scene analysis work, but what you should be striving for is complexity, engagement, imagination, research, and a scholarly (or professional) voice.


Schedule of Dates


Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday


Introduction to the Course by Stephanie Johns
1:05-1:45 Introductions & Syllabus

Stratford Identity
(Please read Knowles, Malone)
Précis for following articles due:

  • Knowles
  • Malone


Interview: Pat Quigley (Former Director of Education – Stratford Festival)

Shakespeare in Context: Life, “the Universal Man”, and Everything Else
Interview Questions for Pat Quigley due.



Intro to Pericles: Writing, Romance, Canon, Incest

5:00 (OPTIONAL) Pre-show dinner (Location TBA)
8:00 The Adventures of Pericles



Interview Melissa Rood (Stage Manager)

Intro to Taming of the Shrew: The Theatre History of Shrewishness in Canada and Beyond
Interview Questions for Melissa Rood due.



Intro to Hamlet: Hamlet and the Overdetermined Signifier



Festival Theatre Tour

(Meet at the Festival Theatre – Class lecture afterwards will be held on the lawn… weather permitting)

Theatre History
(Please read Topham/Schweitzer, Bennett, Malone articles)
Précis for following article due:

  • Bennett



Intro to LLL: LLL and Language, Erotics and Poetics
(Please read the Lichtenfels article)
Précis for following article due:

  • Lichtenfels

2:00 Hamlet
6:00 (OPTIONAL) Post-show debrief

(Location TBA)



Archives Tour and Costume Warehouse Tour

(Please meet at 350 Duoro Street – Class lecture will be held after the tours on the lawn … weather permitting)
Lecture: Original Practices
(Please read Malone, Tiramani, Topham/Schweitzer articles)
Précis for following articles due:

  • Tiramani
  • Topham/Schweitzer


Introduction to the Course by Antoni Cimilino

Marion Adler* and Scott Wentworth Interview (Actor and Director Interview)

Imperator Katharina? Imperator Mariana?: Gender and Performance at Stratford
Interview Questions for Marion Adler and Scott Wentworth due.




2:00 Love’s Labour’s Lost
6:00 (OPTIONAL) Post-show debrief

(Location TBA)
Archive and Costume Shop Reflection Paper due


1:00-2:00 Interview with Seana McKenna
2:30?-4:00 Imperator Marina? Gender and Gender Politics
Interview Questions for Seana McKenna due.


2:00 The Taming of the Shrew
6:00 (OPTIONAL) Cramming for the Quiz (Location TBA)


1:00-2:00 Discussion of The Shrew

Final Quiz

Final Thoughts


Submission of Assignments & Late Penalty

  • I prefer to mark blind.  Do not put your name on your assignments.  Instead, identify yourself with your Student ID number only.  This instruction always trumps MLA formatting expectations.
    • Please submit all papers to the Google Drive folder set up for this course.
  • An assignment is considered “late” if the student and I have not agreed beforehand to an alternate deadline to the one noted above.  Students handing in essays late will be docked 5% per calendar day until the essay is handed in or until 10 calendar days have passed, at which time the assignment will receive 0%.  
    • For those assignments that are late, no commentary will be given.

Addendum: Grade Review

There will not be any “make-up” assignments allowed. If you feel that you have been unfairly graded in any given assignment, I am perfectly happy to review your grade, if and only if you adhere to the following regulations.

  • You must submit a written justification for the grade review to me.
  • You must in that written justification recognize explicitly that your grade could go up or it could go down at the end of the review process.
  • The written justification must be approximately 200-300 words in length.

Notes on Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct takes many forms, not least of which is plagiarism.  Please refer to the calendar for a definition on what constitutes academic misconduct at this institution.  The following are common examples of academic misconduct and will not be tolerated in this class:

  • Harassment of fellow students or teaching staff;
  • Actions that undermine the authority of the professor to assess the class;
  • Intellectual dishonesty (Cheating, plagiarism, falsification of records);
  • Revising an assignment for re-grading, without the instructor’s knowledge and consent;
  • Giving or receiving unpermitted aid on a take-home examination;
  • Giving or receiving aid on an academic assignment under circumstances in which a reasonable person should have known that such aid was not permitted.

Any instances of academic misconduct will be taken up immediately with the administration of the appropriate university.