Shakespeare's Staging
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Thursday, 14 March 2013 16:20

Develop Your Insights into Images of Shakespeare Performance!

This module will cover a whole range of options bearing on the staging of Shakespeare’s plays, beginning with (A) how to create writing about his plays’ impact on audiences. It then proceeds to (B) an illustration of how to activate such a procedure, based on King Lear as Shakespeare’s currently most popular play, followed by (C) another illustration using Much Ado About Nothing to show how to approach a comedy. Then comes a series of background surveys suggesting possible essay topics: (D) covering the history of Shakespeare production, with presentations, challenges, and topics. (E) use of Historical Settings. (F) mechanisms and resources helping composition (to be added later), for handling of production data, including curating apparatus, & a blog for examples, suggestions and comments. (G) outlines procedures for instructors’ use of performance. Finally (H) applies performance to Milton, Dickens, etc.


This first series lays out a system of procedures (with relevant resources) on how to approach the topic of Shakespeare in Performance, from the initial point of finding accessible samples of such performance, then documentation relevant to that performance, the building of your own ideas about its significance, and the application of these experiences to effective writing about the script with which you started, whether a program note, a review, a critical essay, advice to an actor or director, etc. This sequence will initially draw on the material currently available on the site at shakespearestaging.berkeley,edu but is ultimately aimed at a free-standing application with a broader context and audience.

If your approach to the topic of Shakespeare’s staging results from an outside obligation: an essay assignment, your casting in a role, or acceptance of the responsibility of designing, costuming, or even directing a specific script, your concerns may be different from being attracted to a play because of your personal interest in it. However, assuming you have no particular choice in mind, it is essential first of all to strike up such a personal concern with a script. You may do this by thinking about a performance you have already seen; or from popular impressions of such characters as Romeo, Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, or Cleopatra; or even by reading plot summaries in Wikipedia.


The following sources indicate ways in which one can familiarize oneself with performances of Shakespeare’s plays, if one does not have access to live productions, cinematic films, or recordings on VHS or DVD.

a. YouTube has the richest collection of Shakespeare performances on the internet. The quality, extent, and reliability of Shakespeare performance on YouTube are very variable: from excerpts, and sometimes whole films of superior quality (such as the Scofield’s King Lear) to naïve amateur attempts. A representative selection of these can be found on under Video Gallery.

b. Bardbox has a cross-section of interesting excerpts and complete projects.

c. AHDS has a good range of images of R.S.C. productions 1960-2000

d. Shakespeare’s Staging has a selection of historical and current production images:

e. Internet Encyclopedia Britannica: Shakespeare has clips of productions at Encyclopedia Britannica's Shakespeare and The Globe: Then and Now

Next you should read the whole play quickly, ideally in a single play edition (usually available for under $10 second-hand), and before working on a performance in detail (even if you already have the ideal experience of having seen a live production, or a cinematic showing). Only after a reading should you seriously consider the version of the script developed in a performance, which might be a local live one, or a screening. Or, if neither is available, you might choose to seek out a VHS or DVD in your local or school library, or buy a remaindered copy for $10-$20 (normally listed on the internet). Sometimes, whole plays are available free on YouTube: see S Gallery 15 of

For reading a Shakespeare play, single play editions are preferable. The fullest annotated, with extensive performance histories in their introductions, are the single play series from Oxford, from Cambridge, and the Arden (but use recent editions only). Handier but slighter are the various Penguin and Pelican series, but these are less informative. The Folger and Signet are burdened with literary criticism. But some new and rewarding series are provided with detailed notes about production throughout the text, such as the Cambridge University Press Shakespeare in Production, edited by Julie Hankey, who has published many such studies. Unfortunately, few scripts available on the internet are reliable, contemporary, and concerned with production. The only other relevant script sources are collected works of Shakespeare, which are bulky and scantily annotated: some of the more reliable ones are the Riverside, and Bevington’s (revised Kitteridge), but the Complete Oxford has been questioned as eccentric (the Norton is derived from it).

After the reading and seeing the script performed, choose something specific about it that interests you most (this is crucial: your personal interest is the only worthwhile basis): the plot or story - or part of it: a single scene, or episode or brief exchange. Or a character - or a relationship between two or more characters. Or an idea or theme suggested by these major considerations. Or, more narrowly, you might consider some of the language, particularly how it is delivered vocally (not so much the imagery or metrics per se, but their oral rendering). Or consider the set or scenery and its historical period if any. Or the play’s costuming. Or its choreography: not just the use of dance or fights (always important in Shakespeare) but the blocking and physical relationships or gestures of the actors; Or the sound effects – not only music, and song, but battle or storm sounds, etc. Sound effects can crucially affect the audience, as with the storm in King Lear.

This selection of an aspect of performance is the most subjective and local: Aristotle considered plot to be most important, but nineteenth-century criticism favored characterization, as do most modern actors who follow Stanislavski and Method, but directors now often favor theme (usually political, as with a Tempest reflecting wicked European colonization of innocent natives). Non-Marxist literary critics favor language, with abstruse and often misleading stress on imagery (such as Caroline Spurgeon’s misrepresentation of light and fire as positives in Romeo & Juliet). Designers currently favor the most unexpected settings and costumes possible (Pericles in Lapland; Two Noble Kinsmen in Japan; The Tempest in Outer Space).

Having selected a specific topic, seek out relevant stage background data for comparison purposes (NOT modern literary criticism!): you may find it in seeking other recorded performances of your chosen script, Or collections of images of earlier shows, or reviews of these performances found in most modern single play editions, Or in books about a play’s performance history such as the series by Marvin Rosenberg, or the Manchester University series of Shakespeare in Performance. Over a few weeks, or days at least, of note-taking from such sources (not the night before a due date!) think about what effect your data would have on an audience for your selected script, and how it judges the play. For example: if you took The Taming of the Shrew and the scene when Kate and Petruchio first meet: is it set in the past, with male domination stressed by Petruchio’s carrying a whip, and physically threatening her, or does she strike him, or do they both involuntarily stare at each other as in Zeffirelli’s film, suggesting instinctive mutual attraction?

Any writing should be structured by a clear purpose: in this case the demonstration of the interest of your topic-selection from the play. Begin with how and why you selected it, then arrange your specific performance data in vindication of your interest, showing how others might (or did) respond to it as audience, and why this response has value. Ideally, use audio-visual materials from your collection to corroborate your views.


See Illustrations of “Characterizations” using Images in Gallery 13 (Pages 1 to 6) of Shakespeare’s Staging (UCB). Materials for the following essay options are illustrated on successive pages:

Page 1. Taking a series of illustrations of the play Richard III in order to discuss the concepts of Richard's character which they may reflect, in terms of settings, costumes, postures, and expressions.

Page 2. Using images of Cleopatra to display differing views of women's roles and any progressions that they may demonstrate from Shakespeare's own times to the present day.

Page 3. Selecting several images of clowns/fools to show how their appearance, whether traditional or contemporary, objectifies their functions both in comedies and tragedies.

Page 4. Exploring social structures and attitudes governing visual presentations of characters in the courtly or other group scenes in this series of images to see if they show any divergences.
Page 5. To what extent can these different images of Hamlet be reconciled to give a coherent interpretation of the part as it evolves in the play?

Page 6.Using images of "Much Ado About Nothing" to reveal the relationship of Beatrice and Benedick and show how such relationships are treated in the various periods of the performances. Only the images offered for this last Topic 6 in Shakespeare’s Staging are accompanied by brief commentaries suggesting the kind of ways in which the various earlier themes in Gallery 10 might be covered. (see Section C. below )

[Please note: this development cannot yet be sccomplished!] In order to secure the fullest response to your activity, beyond the classroom or the theatre, when this module is fully completed, you may wish to register you topic and conclusions in our planned Blog - Or in the planned procedural amplification of resources for the six procedures above, each of these sections will have allow you a review option available, for you to comment or amplify.



This section will build on Shakespeare’s Staging Gallery 14 and Brook’s film, following the procedures at the start of this module, Section A.

Let us assume (as Hugh Richmond once did) that you have chosen as topic the justification of the popularity of King Lear - despite its seemingly gloomy topic of two dysfunctional families driving their members to exile, madness, and death. HR’s interest resulted from a demonstration of the beach scene’s ingenuity, vividness, wit, and meaningfulness by RSC actor Sebastian Shaw.

Your justification is like the student’s in the first Epilogue to the Single Play Bibliography for King Lear in also excerpted below, at 5.A.

Read through the play quickly in any one-volume edition, perhaps noting any positive aspects: the humor of the Fool, the innocence of Cordelia and Edgar (though it makes them naïve victims), Lear’s increasing social awareness of his responsibilities during his so-called “madness”; the loyalty of Kent; the maturing of Edgar, leading to his success in curing Gloucester of his suicidal state of mind, plus Edgar’s victory over the wicked Edmund, leading to Edmund’s repentance.

You decide to write about ideas of social awareness and personal responsibility and find the fullest recognition of the increased awareness of problems, and focus on remedies, of Edgar and Lear in their behavior and ideas, in the beach scene, in Act IV, which becomes your focus, perhaps in the Brook film version, or Olivier’s television performance both on YouTube.

You might look through the Single Play Bibliography for King Lear in in search of positivist readings, such as Reginald Foakes, Hamlet Versus King Lear: Cultural Politics and Shakespeare's Art, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, OR Hugh M. Richmond, "A Letter to the Actor Playing Lear." in Shakespeare Illuminations: Essays in Honor of Marvin Rosenberg, 110-130. Jay Halio & Hugh Richmond, eds. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1998. OR you might locate elsewhere: the G. Wilson Knight’s essay on “King Lear and the Comedy of the Grotesque” as an attempt to turn away from a tragic reading.

You may subject the text to a thoughtful analysis of (A) how an audience would react to Edgar’s catharsis of his father at the supposed cliff edge, (B) followed in the same scene by how Scofield interprets Lear’s state of mind in the dialogue with Gloucester about his promiscuity - as seen in the following two extracts from the material following the Single Play Bibliography for King Lear in

(A) Staging King Lear by Jonathan Patrick

My favourite moment in Shakespeare is the scene in King Lear where the blind Gloucester is led by his son Edgar to the cliffs of Dover, where he intends to commit suicide. Gloucester does not know that his guide is Edgar, who has taken on the disguise of the madman Poor Tom.

Gloucester has lost his sight; we have ours. However, what we are about to see will make us question its reliability, morality, even its desirability. We watch as Edgar leads his father forward, telling him that he is now “within a foot / Of th’extreme verge” (IV, vi). He gives a dizzying verbal picture of the view from the precipice. Gloucester tells him to leave and Edgar does so. What, we ask ourselves, is Edgar playing at? Will he really let his father jump? Is this some kind of revenge for Gloucester’s earlier injustices towards him? In an aside, Edgar addresses the question, but tells us merely “Why I do trifle thus with his despair / Is done to cure it”. In this play about eyes, where should we look: at the man about to leap or at his son, who must surely stop this from happening?

Then Gloucester jumps. He falls, and is prostrate onstage. So he’s dead? Have we really just watched a man leap to his death? Edgar himself is unsure and runs up to Gloucester. Assuming a new accent and persona, he shouts to Gloucester, who wakes up. Once again, Shakespeare pitches us into confusion. Have we just watched a man jump from a cliff and survive? Or have we just seen him die then rise from the dead? Gloucester himself is unsure: “But have I fallen or no?” Ultimately, we can work out that this is an elaborate ruse by Edgar, designed to trick his father out of his suicidal despair by convincing him that he has been miraculously preserved. Gloucester’s leap landed him on the ground before him; Edgar never took him to the edge. But Edgar/Shakespeare is toying with us too: was that really what we saw?

I can think of nothing more purely theatrical than this scene. On the radio or on film, it just can’t work in the same way. It has to be done on a bare stage; make the staging realistic and you give away that Gloucester hasn’t jumped at all. It’s a soul-saving experience for Gloucester and a theatrical miracle.

B. From the "Essay on The Tragicomedy of Lear" after the Single Play Bibliography, in

A similar gentle subversiveness underlies the beach scene between Lear and Gloucester, which is often falsified as Lear still in raging madness. Rather than his previous extravagances, this scene invites a low-keyed performance in which Lear shows the casual insights of the true sage. I saw Sebastian Shaw play this scene with Gloucester many years ago at a workshop organized by Marvin Rosenberg at the Zellerbach Theatre in Berkeley, and its quiet sanity has remained self-evident to me ever since. As Lear ultimately admits; “I know thee well enough, thy name is Gloucester” (4.6.177); and all his wry remarks turn on another mock trial, directed at Gloucester’s lustfulness, which led to the birth of his illegitimate son Edmund:

Ay, every inch a king!
When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
I pardon this man’s life. What was thy cause?
Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery! No,
The wren goes to’t, and the small gilded fly
Doth lecher in my sight.
Let copulation thrive; for Gloucester’s bastard son
Was kinder to his father than my daughters
Got between the lawful sheets. (4.6.106-14)

My lectures on the play since seeing Shaw’s interpretation have been entitled “The Sanity of Lear.” Every word of this speech of Lear rises naturally and wittily from his contemplation of the pathetic figure of the blind Gloucester, groveling at his feet. Lear is reviewing the adulterous origins of Edmund via the depraved liaison to which Gloucester admits at the start of the play: “Though this knave came somewhat saucily to the world before he was sent for, yet was his mother fair, there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged.” (i.i.21-4) Lear’s subsequent sardonic comments on the immorality of court ladies, implicit in Edmund’s origin, plausibly revert to this episode, and do not derive from some morbid tangent of a diseased imagination as is often assumed. It is true that Lear still mistakenly thinks Edmund is honorable, but in his acceptance of him one can even hear an echo of Edmund’s cry: “Now, gods, stand up for bastards.” (1.2.22) Lear is now as skeptical as Edmund: “To’t, Luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers.” Every time I read the whole speech aloud to audiences they laugh openly at its wry truth:

Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand!
Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thy own back,
Thou hotly lusts to use her in that kind
For which thou whip’st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.
Through tatter’d clothes small vices do appear;
Robes and furr’d gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtles breaks;
Arm it in rage, a pigmy’s straw doth pierce it.
None does offend, none, I say none. I’ll able ‘em.
Take that of me , my friend, who have the poer
To seal th’accuser’s lips. Get thee glass eyes,
And like a scurvy politician, seem
To see the things thou dost not. (4.6.160-72)

The as-yet not-fully-tempered Edgar may not wholly perceive the validity of these observations (“O, matter and impertinency mix’d, / Reason in madness”4.6.174-5), but modern audiences invariably see deeper than he does, and can share the insights which ensure Lear will never again pursue rash condemnation. His state of mind is the opposite of madness.



This section will build on Shakespeare’s Staging Gallery 15, plus Gallery 8.5

To begin with you might look at some recorded productions of Much Ado such as the Branagh film version, or the David Tennant one (both on YouTube), or the video clips of the UCB performance in the rebuilt Globe Theatre in London in Then look up the recorded history in a single play edition, following along the lines of the material below, from the Shakespeare’s Staging website. The site’s Gallery 14 provides a visual account of the play’s production history. Since the Beatrice/Benedick relationship is so frequently praised and illustrated, you might try to plot its evolution by choosing to compare the opening scene with the church scene in Act IV, to elucidate the fascination of the progression in their feelings, and how this is expressed to attract audiences.

.A. Brief Production History of Much Ado

Much Ado About Nothing is celebrated for its contentious pair of lovers, Beatrice and Benedick (Gallery 2.3.12-15), whose mutual skirmishes are resolved in shared defense of Beatrice’s friend Hero, slandered by her fiancé, Claudio, friend of Benedick. The plot involves a series of contrived over-hearings (or “notings”– hence the title) which foster the love of Beatrice and Benedick (Gallery 1.8.3-5 ), but mislead Claudio (see the inn scene in Video Gallery). Critics censure the supposed central plot involving the undistinguished characters of Hero and Claudio (Gallery 2.3.20-21), but Shakespeare uses them merely as foils and catalysts of the more jaded, witty couple, who have provided the norm for most later literary love-affairs evolving from seeming contentiousness, such as Mirabell and Millamant in William Congreve’s comedy The Way of the World or Elizabeth and Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and perhaps even Martha and George in Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (see the essay in H. M. Richmond, Shakespeare's Sexual Comedy).

The distinctive setting in Messina bizarrely matches the locale of the paranoid victor over the Turks at Lepanto (1572), the Bastard Don John of Austria, who unexpectedly figures as the villain of the play (he first planned the Armada against England; Gallery 9.1.3-4). Some of the farcical humor derives from the incompetent police (forerunners of the Keystone Kops; see Gallery 9.4.1-6 and inn video) led by Dogberry (Gallery 2.3.16 as above), who resolve the lovers’ misapprehensions; but the play’s great delight is the progress of the affair between Beatrice and Benedick, which has been a favorite of leading performers (Galleries 2.3.12-15, 19; and 3.2.31-36; and 6.2.8-10), as famously illustrated by the enthusiastically revived production starring Antony Quayle and John Gielgud with various actresses: Diana Wynyard, Margaret Leighton, and Peggy Ashcroft. It was also the script for U. C. Berkeley performances at the rebuilt Shakespeare Globe Theatre in London (Gallery 9.4 - and several clips in the video gallery). See also Gallery 14: Much Ado: Researching a Production History. ©HMR

B. The Audience and Much Ado

This play illustrates how aesthetically superior audience response is to that of many literary critics, who censure the play because of what they consider an inadequate main plot with weak characters, mechanically assuming Hero and Claudio to be the focus of the play. From the first, audiences perceived that the core of the play lies in the evolution in the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick as Leonard Digges records in 1640: "let but Beatrice and Benedick be seen, lo in a trice the cockpit, galleries, boxes all are full." Don John's machinations are merely an incident in the complex sequence of events in their fascinatingly erratic love-affair, important elements of which antedate the play's action, as Beatrice bluntly establishes in complaining of Benedick's jilting of her after once before he won her heart by playing for it "with false dice" (2.1.280), thus explaining how she can say to him "I know you of old." (1.1.145) Moreover, this antecdent involvement clearly persists in their preoccupation with each-other, visible whenever they are both on stage together, so that the over-hearings about their supposed mutual fixation merely intensify an existing preoccupation rather than initiating it.

In relation to the incidental theme of the Don John/Hero/Claudio, that subplot clearly functions in the play as what film director Alfred Hitchcock frequently called "the MacGuffin": "a plot element that catches the viewer's attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction," thereby eliciting presentation of more important issues. For Hitchcock also observed that, even if the plot nominally revolves around it, "what the object specifically is, the audience doesn't care." This audience indifference to Hero's plight is evident at most performances of Much Ado, and particularly notable in the Quayle/Gielgud/Ashcroft series. Paradoxically such detachment is not inevitable: when Hero is played subtly it is clear that, just as his friends enjoy humiliating the smug Benedick, so Hero resents Beatrice's easy domination of her society. However, in elevating themselves to being "the only love-gods" (2.1.386) the conspirators risk meriting their own deception by Don John - so there is a certain symmetry in the deceptions, from which only Beatrice and Benedick emerge with some credit for their ultimate loyalty to each-other and to Hero, despite the risks and humiliations involved. So to some extent an alert audience should perceive that Hero, Claudio, and Don Pedro all suffer the humiliating fate they try to inflict on Beatrice and Benedick. Moreover, the agents who resolve the potentially tragic situation are a group of supposedly unsophisticated watchmen. In this mixture of elements the play fulfills the classic specifications of tragicomedy: to hold audience attention by mixing classes, emotions, and dramatic effects from farce to pathos, but with a positive outcome, as required by Lope de Vega's aesthetic in The New Art of Writing Plays. © HMR



To follow this test activity through you will need to return to Gallery 13 Items 7A and 7B of :          under images in these two Sub-Galleries are provocative questions & answers.Only the opening question and answer are given here as examples of the quiz:

In this sub-gallery there are provocative questions about the theatre in Shakespeare's time. The answers follow in the next section.

Question 1. Which of the following assertions is truest of English performances 1558-1642?

A. In all performances women's roles were played by boys
B. In many performances women's roles were played by boys and men
C. Mostly women's roles were played by boys, some were by men, on occasions by women.

Question 2: etc., etc.



QUESTION 1. Answer: C. (Score one point). Boys were cast in female roles, but older, comic female parts such as Juliet's Nurse or Mistress Quickly were probably played by men as in the playlet Pyramus and Thisbe inset into A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For illustration of a man as an older women go to:

YouTube at

In this clip** from "Shakespeare in Love," Juliet’s comical Nurse is clearly played by a man, as in Elizabethan times. The staging of masques in King James’ court cast ladies including his queen. The London City Remembrancer, Thomas Norton, complained about onstage behavior by Italian actresses, probably members of touring commedia dell'arte
troupes. (see Hugh M. Richmond, Shakespeare’s Theatre pp.77, 252 – available in most libraries as part of internet Credo Reference; also on the internet via Google Books).

ESSAY TOPIC FROM THIS ANSWER TO 1: Discuss what audience effect there might be in the performance of a role like the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet by a man, considering how he might perform it. As a starting point you might go to this Nurse scene found at YouTube reference**

** Locate YouTube on web & use addresses given. Please ignore or stop any advertisements!

QUESTION 2. Answer B. (Score one point) etc., etc., . . .


What did you score out of ten possible points for the quiz?

Ten points: Send your next manuscript to the Oxford University Press!
Five to nine points: you are well informed about the Elizabethan theatre.
One to four points: you are on the right track!



This currently undeveloped section will consolidate material for possible essay subjects covering play settings in productions which can be found in at Galleries 10 and 11.



VENUS & ADONIS Mythical Greece
MND Preclassical Greece
TWO NOBLE KINSMEN Preclassical Greece
TROILUS & CRESSIDA 2nd Millenium Troy
KING LEAR Ancient Britain


TIMON Classical Athens
COMEDY OF ERRORS Pre-Christian Levant
PERICLES Pre-Christian Levant
WINTER'S TALE Magna Graecia
[Pre-Christian Sicily}


RAPE OF LUCRECE Pre-Republican Rome
CORIOLANUS Early Republican Rome
JULIUS CAESAR Late Republican Rome
ANTONY & CLEOPATRA Early Roman Empire Egypt, Asia Minor
CYMBELINE Early Britain Imperial Rome


HAMLET Amlothi Saga= 6th C. Scandinavia [Wittenberg U. 1502+]
[KING LEAR Edgar= 10th C. Saxon]
MACBETH 12th C. Scotland


KING JOHN 13th C. England 13th C. France
King Edward III 14th C. England 14th C, France
KING RICHARD II 14th C. England
KING HENRY IV 15th C. England
KINH HENRY V 15th C. England 15th C. France
KING HENRY VI 15th C. England 15th C. France
KING RICHARD III 15th C. England


M.W. OF WINDSOR 15th/16th C. England
SIR THOMAS MORE 16th C. England
HENRY VIII 16th C. England
ROMEO & JULIET 14th/15th C. Verona
ALL'S WELL 15th/16th C. France: Midi
AS YOU LIKE IT 15th/16th C. France: Ardennes
OTHELLO 16th C. Venice, Cyprus (& N. Africa)
MUCH ADO 16th C. Sicily: Messina
TWELFTH NIGHT 16th C. Balkans: Illyria
CARDENIO 16th C. Spain {Don Quixote]
MEASURE FOR MEASURE 16th C. Reformation Vienna
LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST Late 16th C. France: Navarre
TEMPEST 17th C. Med./ Atlantic:
Caliban= Cannibal= Caribal= Caribbean



These so far only proposed applications will be for handling of production data including curating apparatus, & a blog for examples, suggestions and comments. They will be added when the site switches to Drupal, Drupal 7 is an open-source content-management platform powering millions of websites and applications, some relevant to this module. It is built, used, and supported by an active and diverse community of people around the world. It is also the standard CMS platform adopted by University of California, Berkeley. Drupal runs over 100 U.C.B. websites now, and has built a strong campus-wide support model around Drupal. However, so far it has not been heavily used, or scheduled for use, by the Humanities. Our major contribution technically will be to redeploy many of its capacities to meet the needs of the students of authors such as Shakespeare.




This section will be based on the description of the UCB Shakespeare Program in the second section of: Shakespeare’s Staging: About Us (the item directly following this module):


The precedents established in the UCB Shakespeare Program can be translated into a few practical procedures for course-work:

1. Encourage students to memorize and perform brief extracts from assigned scripts.

2. Use in-class clips of performances from Bardbox, YouTube, VHS or DVD.

3. Ask local t Shakespeare companies for class visits: most support audience building.

4. Assign creative writing: a “missing” speech for a character defending an action in the play, or a sonnet, or a review of a production, or notes to prepare an actor for a part.

5, Check out the historical background for a play and relate it to Shakespeare’s version.

6. Relate a play or part of it to some similar text e.g Much Ado & Pride and Prejudice.



Any uncertainty about Milton's modern critical status and audience appeal may be offset by greater stress on his biography as a prototype for modern temperament, instead of focus on arcane puritan theological and political debates, often at the expense of demonstrations of the poet's still compelling literary vision of the human condition, as seen in Philip Pullman's prefaces to the Oxford University Press "Paradise Lost." Such broader recognition of his fascination might be reinforced by an audio-visual approach such as is used in a comparable site which exploits students' newly heightened visual expectations at

Modern technology permits extensive use of images and video clips of Miltonic materials, such as are already available to the UCB English Department, and seen in Christ's College's Anniversary Website. The increasing interest in performance of Milton's works provides further examples of such heightening resources, including the staging of L'Allegro and Il Penseroso by the Mark Morris Dance Company. Such materials will be reinforced here by recording of current research, presentations, and other activities concerning Milton, which may be relevant to contemporary experience and helpful to enhancement of the impact of scholars and teachers. For a model for this approach see:

The initial goal of this module will be to establish a listing of resources to reinforce the contemporary impact of Milton's work. The list will provide access to audio-visual material such as the video documentary Milton by Himself distributed by Films for the Humanities, which covers his life and works, while providing new dynamic approaches to their presentation, such as public performances of Comus, Paradise Lost and Samson. The site will identify professional groups actively involved in such activities. For example, there is a libretto based on Paradise Lost by Benjamin Stillingfleet with music by John Christopher Smith the Younger was first performed in 1760, with a printed version that year (re-edited by Kay Stevenson and Margaret Sears in 1998), and many other musical versions of Milton exist. For example, music from Handel's setting of Samson is a regular source for modern concert programming, and Handel has unique empathy for Milton's verse, as seen in his settings for L'Allegro and Il Penseroso used by Mark Morris. In 2006 there were also favorably-reviewed stage performances of a three-hour version of Paradise Lost at the Oxford Playhouse (U.K.) . For several years concert recitations of Paradise Lost have also been successfully presented in England and elsewhere by David Burns, based on recitation of complete books chosen from the full text. As awareness of such achievements is established, our group might aspire to its own programming and initiatives to confirm Milton's modern significance. This kind of approach is relevant to many other authors as reflected in Galleries 9-11. Suggestions about such developments are welcomed.



This preliminary outline of a planned module with curating facilities and a blog still to be added, shows some of the planned interactions for the site intended to develop a distinctive academic application entitled Shakespeare/Performance/Writing. We have funding to archive the whole Shakespeare site after it is revised in the Fall of 2013, with the help of the California Digital Library, and the UCB Library. This transfer will occur after the site has been moved to Drupal 7, and apparatus has been included in this module to facilitate access and use by students and researchers on the site.

Programmed images with related bibliographical references and essay topics, coupled with the new integration of YouTube into the present site’s operation are all part of some very recent developments in the pattern recommended by Whitney Trettien, "Disciplining Digital Humanities, 2010: A Review of Shakespeare's Staging, XMAS, Shakespeare Performance in Asia, Shakespeare Quartos Archive and Bardbox." Shakespeare Quarterly, 61.3 (Fall 2010). These new combinations will lead to a richer and more fully interactive application for the site data, including the blog for participants’ comments and suggestions. This unique blend of resources will demonstrate how to deploy performance approaches in creating effective critical responses to Shakespeare. In its final version this module should be streamlined by cross-referencing to sources here quoted more fully. How comparable interrelated combination of resources may be made available for other authors, like Milton, is already suggested in current Galleries 9-11.

Comments and suggestions about this module (and other sections) are welcomed and should be sent to the e-mail address for the Project Director Hugh Richmond, at the English Department, U.C. Berkeley at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Date: 01/30/2013
Page: 1 2 3

Last Updated on Friday, 03 January 2014 14:43 Read : 3156 times
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