PLAI 500 (Winter 2014): Advanced Interdisciplinary Humanities Seminar
Playing Shakespeare: Theory and Practice of Theatrical-Musical Transformation
What happens to an artwork when it is changed into another form altogether? What happens to a play by Shakespeare when it is made into an opera by a composer like Britten or Verdi? How do these formal and presentational alterations also change the intellectual, affective, and social dimensions of the artwork? Students in this course will have the opportunity to develop their own answers to these and other questions by exploring the complex territories of theatre and music and also by crossing the boundary between them. You will also learn about Shakespeare’s plays and a number of musical transformations of Shakespeare by playing with them—engaging with them at the level of performance as well as by analyzing them critically.
The first month of the course will induct students into Shakespeare and Music boot camp, an intensive series of workshops about how to read and listen, not as passive forms of reception, but as active, creative, increasingly expert ways of engaging with drama and music. The phase of the course will connect formatively with a related research project let by Patrick Hansen that features actors, singers, and scholars, who are working together to develop new ways of performing Shakespeare as theatre and as opera.
After the Shakespeare and Music boot camp, the course will be devoted to the development of students’ own projects and to the study of a series of pairings of Shakespeare plays and works of music. Students can create projects that focus in a range of ways on the central questions of the seminar. Students will be invited to develop projects that have creative as well as scholarly and critical dimensions.