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Local and Global Shakespeares (IL021)

Kansas City

(Audience at The Winter's Tale, The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, Kansas City, July 2014. Credit: A.J. Leon)

Student feedback

Definitely the best module I’ve ever taken. Having the seminars with the Monash students was incredible. I feel like both groups were coming from different places so it was really useful to share ideas. It’s one thing for a lecturer to say ‘in Australia, Shakespeare is seen like this’ and completely another to have an Australian student say ‘this is what Shakespeare is’.
- 2016/17 student

Module felt really well structured – theoretical issues laid out in first session and then explored through texts in following sessions, coming to a conclusion with the sharing of presentations and practical work. Really liked the assignments. The creative project is a great mode of assessment and was a big draw to the module for me.
- 2016/17 student

The module was the best thing I could have taken this year. It was fun, thoughtful and definitely impacted the way I now view Shakespeare. Linking with my degree in regards to globalization and interconnectedness, it was a new perspective and way to deepen my understanding and knowledge. This module, above all else, was just fun, something that can be really underrated.
- 2016/17 student

For examples of student work from 2016, see below.


This intensive module provides students with the opportunity to examine Shakespearean texts and productions in both local and 'global' contexts. Students at Monash will work simultaneously with students at Warwick to share particular knowledges and deepen their understanding of local, regional, national and transnational approaches to the texts. They will interrogate the extent to which Shakespeare – the ‘global playwright’ in the words of the 2012 World Shakespeare Festival – can be indigenized and used as a platform for local community identity and as a tool to explore contemporary issues of politics, race, class, gender and culture. An informed critique of the work of ‘local’ Shakespeare companies will be followed by the students themselves devising creative responses to Shakespearean texts. Research will inform practice, and that practice will in turn produce original creative-critical work and analytical reflection on the module’s key themes.

Questions of 'authority' and 'authenticity' in Shakespearean production will be addressed alongside issues such as the politics of translation, the influence of notions of 'high' and 'low' culture, and the impact of technological innovation on the development of performance forms. As the dissemination of performance across cultures and technologies will be a key consideration of the unit, students in both domains will work together in real time on practical performance exercises and share the development of a creative project.


Illustrative Syllabus and Structure:

Portal Session 1: Introduction/s: Shakespeare’s Globe / Global Shakespeare (2hrs) Team building; speaking and listening exercises; discussion: What is Global Shakespeare? What did Shakespeare understand as ‘global’? Why was the Globe so called? How did Shakespeare become a global phenomenon?

Portal Session 2: The World’s Playwright? (2hrs) 2012 World Shakespeare Festival + range of 2016 celebrations – draw on recordings of ‘Globe to Globe’ productions in non-Anglophone languages to discuss Shakespeare as Global Playwright, politics of international and intercultural performance, nationalism, appropriation/adaptation etc. Set readings from A Year of Shakespeare and Shakespeare on the Global Stage.

Portal Session 3: The World’s Local Playwright? : Preparing for local spectatorship (2hrs) Exchange of information between students. Based on online information, what can each group expect from their chosen live production? What can we learn of performances in other cultures from a distance? What can students tell each other about their localities – Melbourne and the English Midlands / Stratford-upon-Avon? How might these locations inflect performance? What are the expectations of local audiences when approaching Shakespearean performance? Featured companies and events will include: The Royal Shakespeare Company; The Bell Shakespeare; One Step at a Time Like This; Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Field Trip: Performance Visit (4hrs): A theatre trip to a Shakespeare production in Stratford-upon-Avon and Melbourne respectively. There will be an onus on students to document all aspects of the experience that could not be gleaned from distance; themes of witnessing, reportage, memory, situation of self in relation to performance; cultural materialist reading of theatre spaces; towns and cities as texts.

Warwick students will see CORIOLANUS at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon at 7.15pm on Thursday 12th October, 2017.

Portal Session 4: Reflecting post-performance (2hrs) Plenary discussion of field trips to Shakespearean productions. In-class presentations in this session.

Portal Session 5: Localizing Shakespeare in Practice (2hrs) How might the play-texts seen in local productions be made to speak differently for the location of Melbourne and the English midlands? What aspects of the productions might be considered place-less/globalized? How might the text/s be interpreted differently in order more fully to represent current concerns or regional/civic identity?

Supervised group work session/s (4 x 2hrs) In which students work in small groups to devise their own ‘local’ creative responses to Shakespearean texts. These will be supervised and structured by module tutors.

Portal Session 6: Work Sharing and conclusions (2hrs) Student-devised practical projects shared and critiqued. Major intellectual and cultural themes of module reviewed. Detailed advice on preparation of reflective essays.

All joint classes will take place in the International Portal, Ramphal Building, from 8-10am (GMT). This module will be seminar- and workshop-based, taught through a combination of activities including mini lectures and guest speakers, group discussions, practical performance exercises and in-class peer presentations. As this module must meet the demands of both the UK and Australian timetables, it will be taught in intensive mode – 10hrs of teaching will take place via the International Portal over 6 weeks (October-November 2017). The remaining 10hrs of contact time will consist of theatre field trips, and supervised small and large group work. Warwick sessions will be scheduled for early morning (8-10am); Melbourne sessions will be scheduled for the evening. In Melbourne, the module will be taught through the portal facilities at Caulfield campus. The unit will be supported by a Moodle site.

By the end of this module students will have:

1. Extended their understanding of Shakespearean texts and the history of Shakespearean performance;

2. Deepened their critical awareness of how Shakespeare operates as a global force, and of themselves as 'global' learners and performers;

3. Engaged with theoretical and historiographical issues concerning commemoration, postcolonialism, festivity, the role of the arts in civic identity

4. Learnt to apply key concepts from areas such as translation studies, transnational and intercultural studies, and theatre historiography;

5. Enhanced their understanding of how technology can be used to disseminate knowledge and develop practical performance work;

6. Applied their understanding of the relationship between theory and practice in the development of practical performance work.

Student Work from 2016 - examples

King Lear


Ben Kulvichit (Warwick): For my creative project I chose to 'translate' the first scene of Grigori Kozintsev’s 1971 Russian-language film adaptation of King Lear - ‘translated’ in inverted commas because I chose to add subtitles which bear no resemblance to the actual lines that the actors speak, imposing a second, wryly humourous narrative onto Kozintsev’s film in which Shakespeare himself (a re-cast King Lear) chooses to distribute his work and legacy between three directors - Gregory Doran, Peter Brook and Emma Rice. The re-subtitled film explores attitudes towards canonical authority, universality and textual fidelity in relation to adapting Shakespeare. It acts as an hijacking of what is traditionally seen to be a ‘classic’ or definitive rendition of a Shakespeare play, but which is in fact divorced from Shakespeare’s original text linguistically, formally and geographically. The film is a tongue-in-cheek attempt to assert my own authorial agency over Shakespeare via the appropriative apparatus of translation.

You might also enjoy this group project, 'Queen Leah', by Monash students

Queen Leah


Bhabha, Homi K, The Locations of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994: Chapter 4.

Bennet, Susan and Christie Carson, eds. Shakespeare Beyond English: A Global Experiment. Cambridge, 2013.

Cartelli, Thomas, Repositioning Shakespeare: National Formations, Postcolonial Appropriations. London: Routledge, 1999.

Dawson, Antony, ‘International Shakespeare’ in Wells and Stanton (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Stage. Cambridge, 2002.

Edmondson, Paul, Paul Prescott and Erin Sullivan, eds. A Year of Shakespeare: Reliving the World Shakespeare Festival. London, 2013.

Flaherty, K., Gay, P., Semler, L. (eds) (2013). Teaching Shakespeare Beyond the Centre: Australasian Perspectives. Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

Flaherty, K., Gay, P. (2010). ‘Finding local habitation: Shakespeare's Dream at play on the stage of contemporary Australia’. In Dymkowski, Christine and Carson, Christie (Eds.), Shakespeare in Stages, (pp. 229-247). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Greenblatt, Stephen et al, eds. The Norton Shakespeare 3rd ed. London, 2015.

Hartley, Andrew, The Shakespearean Dramaturg: A Theoretical and Practical Guide. Basingstoke, 2004.

____________ , Shakespeare and Political Theatre in Practice. Basingstoke, 2013.

Hodgdon, Barbara, ‘Looking for Mr. Shakespeare After the Revolution: Robert Lepage’s Intercultural Dream Machine’ in Shakespeare, Theory, and Performance ed. James Bulman. London, 1996.

Hodgdon, Barbara, and W.B. Worthen, eds, Blackwell Companion to Shakespeare and Performance. Oxford, 2007. Kennedy, Denis. Looking at Shakespeare. Cambridge, 2003.

Kidnie, Margaret Jane, Shakespeare and the Problem of Adaptation. London, 2008.

Knowles, Ric, Reading the Material Theatre. Cambridge, 2005.

Geertz, Clifford, ‘Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture’, in The Interpretation of Cultures. New York, 1973.

Loomba, Ania and Orkin, Martin, "Introduction: Shakespeare and the Post-Colonial Question," Post-Colonial Shakespeares, ed. Loomba and Orkin

Orkin, Martin, Local Shakespeares: Proximations and Power, Routledge, 2005.

Prescott, Paul and Erin Sullivan eds, Shakespeare on Global Stage: Performance and Festivity in the Olympic Year. London, 2014

Shakespeare, William. Primary texts to be decided by performance repertoires in Melbourne and Stratford-upon-Avon in October 2016.

Gary Taylor, Reinventing Shakespeare: a cultural history from the Restoration to the present. London, 1990.

Stanley Wells and Sarah Stanton (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Stage. Cambridge, 2002.

Module convenors

Dr Paul Prescott (P dot Prescott at warwick dot ac dot uk)

Dr Fiona Gregory
(Fiona dot Gregory at monash dot edu)

Dr Gabriel Garcia-Ochoa
(Gabriel dot Garcia-Ochoa at monash dot edu)


Term 1 (Autumn) 2017-18
Weeks 1-6
(NB module ends in Week 6)
Portal Sessions: 8-10am, Tuesdays & Thursdays of Weeks 1-3 and 5


International Portal, R0.12
Ramphal Building


For 15 CATS:

30% Student-devised practical project (e.g. 5-10 min site-specific adaptation, filmed)

50% Reflective essay (reflecting on module work, developing themes touched on in class + identifying and evaluating specific individual contribution to Student-devised practical project) (2500 words)

20% One in-class/-term assignment (e.g. presentation, podcast, etc.)

For 12 CATS:

40% Student-devised practical project (e.g. 5-10 min site-specific adaptation, filmed)

60% Reflective essay (reflecting on module work, developing themes touched on in class + identifying and evaluating specific individual contribution to student-devised projects) (2000 words)