Shakespeare and Brecht

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Spring 2018
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

performance, voice, community studies
Elizabeth Williamson
English literature, theater studies

In 16th-century London, William Shakespeare was commercially successful, but only one of a sea of talented dramatists. Since then, he has become the most recognizable emblem of English-speaking culture. He is both an icon of elite knowledge and widely accessible through a continual process of adaptation and appropriation. Bertolt Brecht was a German playwright working in the tumultuous period between the two World Wars. He was widely admired during his lifetime as a theatrical innovator, but is now little known to the casual theater-goer. Despite their different cultural status in 21st-century America, these playwrights share some crucial stylistic commonalities. Brecht read Shakespeare voraciously and took him as a model for how theater can expose fundamental political and social rifts. Brecht also adopted Elizabethan theater, along with Chinese theater, as a source of inspiration for his own style of anti-naturalistic acting.

In this program we will read plays by both authors and study theories of acting, allowing students to test out modes of interpretation as both readers and performers. Skill-building workshops will help students understand the play scripts by reading them out loud and performing them for each other. In particular, students will learn to analyze and scan Shakespeare’s verse structures. Students new to this kind of voice training for actors will learn beginning levels of vocal resonance, projection, and diction. Students with some previous experience will be able to apply these skills to emotional interpretation of poems and plays.

No previous experience with theater is necessary to succeed in this program, only the willingness to try new ways of inhabiting the text. Students who enroll for 16 credits will participate in an additional text-based Shakespeare seminar.

Fields of study: 

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: performance and graduate study in the humanities and theater

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

$31 for theater tickets.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

Final schedule and room assignment:

2018-02-02Fee reduced (from $40 to $31).