• Length:
    8 Weeks
  • Effort:
    3–4 hours per week
  • Price:

    FREE
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  • Institution
  • Subject:
  • Level:
    Introductory
  • Language:
    English
  • Video Transcript:
    English

Prerequisites

None

About this course

Skip About this course

William Shakespeare is the most performed playwright on the globe; this course brings his play The Merchant of Venice into the 21st century by comparing multiple recent performances, from film and television stagings to an international production that marked the first performance of the play in the former Jewish Ghetto of Venice, Italy. Students will:

  • Learn how to read and perform Shakespeare
  • Investigate the historical and contemporary context of Shakespeare’s works, including why and how they continue to be read and performed
  • Gain insight from Shakespeare scholars, historians, theater professionals, and actors
  • Produce and Perform selected scenes using the knowledge and techniques they have learned

This course provides a rare opportunity to see how artists and performers today grapple with a play that is dramatically challenging in its mixture of comic and tragic elements, as well as its portrayal of gender relations and ethnic and religious prejudice. Along the way, Students will learn to read and understand Shakespeare with the help of recorded vignettes on historical and theatrical context by scholars and theater professionals, as well as performance tutorials and reflections delivered by the actors themselves.

Students will also put into practice what they have learned, recording and producing short performances of selected scenes or speeches, and will be asked to consider and reflect upon how their choices foreground questions of historical context, gender relations, and/or the variability of dramatic modes.

This course is of interest to anyone interested in Shakespeare and the theater, those who want to learn about the history of Shakespeare’s life and times, or those who desire a greater understanding of dramatic performance and their own creative process. This module may also function as an instructional aid for educators at the high school and university level with a focus on adapting Shakespeare for the theater or screen.

Image by: Cathleen Nalezyty

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • Acquire clearer understanding of your own creativity and self-analysis
  • Read challenging material and express your thoughts in oral and written communication
  • Increase your consciousness of ethical, historical, political and artistic issues in what you read, hear and see
  • Encourage your understanding of Shakespeare, especially as an occasion for communication across personal, historical, and cultural boundaries

Part 1: Reading Drama and Poetry

Part 2: The Merchant of Venice and Close Reading

Part 3: Production Choices and The Merchant of Venice

Part 4: Designing Your Own Productions

Part 5: Preparing for Live Performance

Meet your instructors

Diana Henderson
Professor
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners from one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. EdX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.