The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.224 Thursday, 14 May 2015
Date: May 14, 2015 at 12:39:43 PM EDT
Subject: Re: SHAKSPER: English Majors
It’s interesting to read about the “lack” of required Shakespeare in English programs, especially in light of the ongoing discussion of whether Shakespeare wrote with readers in mind. As a theatre teacher/director, I tend to regard the plays as scripts — and, while being aware of the many issues regarding the particular text we may be using in class or in performance, I encourage students to read the plays for all those things that English majors might do (looking for image clusters, dealing with strange syntax, questioning motives of characters, etc.), but always with an eye to how those things might matter in performance. After all, how a line is said (or how it is heard in one’s head on reading) contributes to one’s ideas about what is going on.
Here at USF, we do not require theatre majors to take a course on Shakespeare, but our Shakespeare for the Theatre course is one of a group of required courses — and many students opt to take it. Individual plays are required in other courses — and the acting students encounter some of the plays in some of their acting classes. The plays, also, feature regularly in our performance series.
One of my concerns, both for English and theatre majors (and the public at large) is that many of them think that Shakespeare existed by himself — they have little or no acquaintance with the plays of his contemporaries. That’s why I have, on occasion, taught a class on Elizabethan and Jacobean Plays other than Shakespeare. I have also directed student productions of ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore and Women Beware Women, and wish there were opportunities to do more.
Ars longa, vita breva est — and funds are even shorter.
C. David Frankel
Assistant Director of Theatre
School of Theatre and Dance
University of South Florida