Skip to main content Skip to navigation

What Is't You Do: Performance Based Teaching of Shakespeare

Session Four: 3.00pm-4.00pm

"What is't you do?": Performance-based Teaching of Shakespeare


Dr. Nicholas Monk and Jonathan Heron, CAPITAL Centre, University of Warwick

MACBETH: What is’t you do?
ALL: A deed without a name.

- William Shakespeare, Macbeth IVi l.48, 1623

“I’m uninterested in Shakespeare the poet. He is useless and does nothing for the present. Shakespeare as performance, as theatre, as present physical thought is vital – this seminar really focussed on this brilliantly. Less poetry please.”

- Anonymous student, CAPITAL evaluation form, 2008


This practical session will demonstrate the value of performance-based/kinaesthetic methods as well as the uses of archival material and technology to enrich advanced textual study. There will be opportunities for participation and reflection. Entitled Staging the Witches, this evolving workshop model uses the first scene of Macbeth to explore Shakespeare in performance. It will be delivered in three different contexts: for local school children (ACE Conference), for final-year undergraduates (Core English Module) and for professionals (NYU Shakespeare Forum). This hybrid of Renaissance text, modern performance history and learner-centred practical work demonstrates ways in which it has been possible to factor an intellectual component into the workshop-based version of our compulsory third-year Shakespeare module at the University of Warwick. How can performance-based approaches to text combine with archival material to facilitate new interpretations? How can innovative use of space and technology enrich the learning process? How can student responses enrich the pedagogic process?