Theatre Arts 275

Shakespeare Performance History

Professor Mazer

Fall 2015


519 Annenberg Center, 3-2659;

Office Hours:  Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:30-2:30, and by appointment


All readings are downloadable from, or linked to, the Canvas site.


August 27:  Introduction


September 1:  What is a text, what is a performance, what is a production, what is performance history?

Reading:  Hamlet; Zachary Lesser, “Playbooks”; Margaret Jane Kidnie, “Where is Hamlet?  Text, Performance, and Adaptation.”


September 3:  Multiple texts

Reading:  King Lear; Hamlet (Q1), link on Canvas; Michael J. Warren, “Quarto and Folio King Lear and the Interpretation of Albany and Edgar”; Steve Urokowitz, “‘Well-sayd Old Mole’: Burying Three Hamlet's in Modern Editions.”


September 8:  Early Modern Scenic Conventions

Reading:  Romeo and Juliet; Alan C. Dessen, “Shakespeare and the Theatrical Conventions of his Time”; Allan C. Dessen, “‘Romeo opens the tomb.’”


September 10:  Early Modern Acting

Reading:  Joseph R. Roach, “Changeling Proteus”; Anthony B. Dawson, “Performance and Participation:  Desdemona, Foucault, and the Actor’s Body”; Tiffany Stern, “Rehearsal, Performance, and Plays.”


September 15:  Character and Subjectivity

Reading:  Catherine Belsey, “Unity”; Alan Sinfield, “When is a Character Not a Character:  Desdemona, Olivia, Lady Macbeth, and Subjectivity.”


September 17:  Shakespeare “Improved”

Reading:  Nahum Tate, King Lear (link on Canvas)


September 22:  Eighteenth-Century Acting

Reading:  Henry Fielding, a chapter from Tom Jones; excerpt from Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, excerpts from Visits to England; Joseph R. Roach, “Garrick, the Ghost, and the Machine.”


September 24:  Romanticism, Acting, and Character

Reading:  Macbeth; John Philip Kemble, “Macbeth Reconsidered”; H.C. Fleeming Jenkin, “Mrs. Siddons as Lady Macbeth and as Queen Katharine”; Joseph W. Donohue, Jr., “Shakespearean Character on the Early Romantic Stage.”


September 29:  Romanticism, Melodrama, and Spectacle

Reading:  William Henry Ireland, Vortigern (link on Canvas)




October 1:  Nineteenth-Century Pictorialism

Reading:  Martin Meisel, “Preamble to the Picture Play” and “Irving and the Artists”; Michael R. Booth, “Shakespeare,” and “Beerbohm Tree’s Henry VIII, Her Majesty’s Theatre, 1910”; Richard W. Schoch, “Pictorial Shakespeare.”


October 6:  Nineteenth-Century Pictorialism II

Reading:  The Merchant of Venice; Richard W. Schoch, “The Homestead of History’:  Medievalism on the Mid-Victorian Stage”; Alan Hughes, “The Merchant of Venice”; Michael R. Booth, “Pictorial Acting and Ellen Terry”; Ralph Berry, “The Imperial Theme.”




October 13:  Acting and Character I

Reading:  Mary Cowden Clarke, “Katharina and Bianca:  The Shrew and the Demure”; Helena Faucit, “Juliet.”


October 15:  Acting and Character II

Reading:  George Henry Lewes, “Edmund Kean,” and “On Natural Acting,” from On Actors and the Art of Acting; William Archer, “Introductory,” “Sunt Lacrymae Rerum,” “‘Autosuggestion’ and ‘Innervation,’” and “The Brownies of the Brain” from Masks or Faces?; G. Bernard Shaw, two theatre reviews from The Saturday Review ; Edward Gordon Craig, “The Actor—His Voice” and “The Actor—His Movement and His Face”; John Gillies, “Stanislavski, Othello, and the Motives of Eloquence”


October 20:    The Shakespeare “Revolution” I:  Elizabethanism

Reading:  Robert Shaughnessy, “The Last of the Pre-Raphaelites”; Joe Falocco, “William Poel.”


October 22:  The Shakespeare “Revolution” II:  Modernism

Reading:   J.L. Styan, “Barker at the Savoy”; essays by H. Granville Barker; Laurence Senelick, “Moscow and Monodrama:  The Meaning of the Craig-Stanislavsky Hamlet.”


October 27:  Director’s Theatre

Reading:  A Midsummer Night’s Dream;  J. L. Styan, “Shakespeare, Peter Brook, and Non-Illusion”;  Documents about A Midsummer Night’s Dream from Peter Brook:  A Theatrical Casebook; John Russell Brown, “Directors and Scholars:  The Intellectual Response” and “Performance:  Directors, Designers and Actors”;  W.B. Worthen, “Shakespeare’s Auteurs:  Directing Authority.”


October 29:  Rediscovering Shakespeare’s Stagecraft

Reading:  James C. Bulman, “Shakespeare and Performance Theory”; Stanley Wells, “John Barton’s Richard II, 1973-4; Cary M. Mazer, “Historicizing Alan Dessen:  Scholarship, Stagecraft, and the ‘Shakespeare Revolution”.


November 3:  Politics and Performance

Reading:  Barbara Hodgdon, “Looking for Mr. Shakespeare after ‘The Revolution’:  Robert Lepage’s Intercultural Dream Machine”; Ric Knowles, “Theory:  Towards a Materialist Semiotics,” “The Stratford Festival,” and “The English Shakespeare Company”; Alan Sinfield, “Royal Shakespeare:  Theatre and the Making of Ideology.”


November 5:  [TO BE ANNOUNCED]




November 10:  Against Character

Reading:   W.B. Worthen, “Shakespeare’s Body:  Acting and the Designs of Authority”; Bridget Escolme, “Actors, Academics, Selves.”


November 12:  Rediscovering Character

Reading:  Roberta Barker, “Inner Monologues:  Realist Acting and/as Shakespearian Performance Text;” Joe Falocco, “‘Shakespeare Has It Both Ways’:  Character andForm in Performance; Paul Prescott, “‘The eternal glory of Mr W., the United States, and the Method’: Sam Wanamaker, Stanislavskian”


November 17:  “Original Practices”

Reading:  Dennis Kennedy, “Shakespeare and Cultural Tourism”; W.B. Worthen, “Reconstructing the Globe, Constructing Ourselves”; Don Weingust, “First Folio Techniques to Performance:   The Original Shakespeare Company at the International Shakespeare’s Globe Center”; Cary M. Mazer, “Historicizing Spontaneity:  The Illusion of the First Time of ‘The Illusion of the First Time’”; Tiffany Stern, “(Re:)Historicizing Spontaneity: Original Practices, Stanislavski, and Characterisation”; Cary M. Mazer, response to Stern’s “(Re:)Historicizing Spontaneity.”


November 19:  Foreign-Language Shakespeare

Reading:  Dennis Kennedy, “Shakespeare Without His Language”; Edward Reiss, “Globe to Globe:  37 Plays, 37 Languages”; other possible essays TBA.


November 24:  Playing with Gender

Reading:  As You Like It; James C. Bulman, “Bringing Cheek by Jowl’s As You Like It Out of the Closet:  The Politics of Queer Theatre”; Cary M. Mazer, “Rosalind’s Breast”; Elizabeth Klett, “Redressing the Balance:  All-Female Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre.”


November 26:  [THANKSGIVING]


December 1:  Playing with Race

Reading:  Ayanna Thompson, “Practicing a Theory/Theorizing a Practice:  An Introduction to Shakespearean Colorblind Casting,” and Peter Erickson, “Afterword:  the Blind Site of  Colorblind Casting.”


December 3:  Post Modernism

Reading:  W. B. Worthen, “Hamlet at Ground Zero: The Wooster Group and the Archive of Performance”; W. B. Worthen, “The Written Troubles of the Brain’:  Sleep No More and the Space of Character.”


December 8:  Catch-up and conclusions.



There will be TWO take-home essay assignments (approximately 5 pages), plus a final term paper (approximately 10-12 pages).  The topic for the final term paper must MUST BE APPROVED IN ADVANCE.




Potential theatregoing/film viewing:  HD screenings of The Merchant of Venice, Othello, and Henry V (Royal Shakespeare Company) at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute; HD screening of Hamlet from the Barbican Theatre, London, via NTLive; television airing of The Hollow Crown II (Henry VI and Richard III); Donmar Theatre, Henry IV, Saint Anne’s Warehouse, Brooklyn.  Other possibilities TBA.



Please familiarize yourself with the rules of academic intergrity, at  I will rigorously pursue violations of the code.


The listserv for this course is  The syllabus for this course is available at