Why Shakespeare? The Man, his Theatre, the Craftsmanship, Performance and Legacy

Ref: C2225740

Explores aspects of Shakespeare’s work to explain its significance in our cultural heritage, the repertoire of theatre, study of literature, influence in music, art, film, even psychology. SHAKESPEARE. THE MAN AND HIS WORLD: What we know and don’t know of his life; brief consideration of authorship “controversy”. HIS THEATRICAL WORLD: origins and development via Miracle, Morality and University plays; acting companies, theatres, staging. SHAKESPEARE'S CRAFTSMANSHIP: sources; collaboration; structure and characterisation; how casting boys as women affected both; use of language; “metatheatre”, its use and significance. ACTING AND DIRECTION: approaches to both, including some practical work if the group wishes. SHAKESPEARE'S LEGACY: how plays have been adapted and appropriated by later playwrights, film directors, composers and librettists; influence on music, painting, psychology, our language and the way we think. Lecture and discussion supported by film clips and recordings.

Course aim

To explore aspects of Shakespeare’s work to help explain why it remains such a significant part of our cultural heritage, central to the theatre repertoire and the study of literature.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Aims to cater for a wide range of knowledge and experience: from those who haven’t explored Shakespeare since school to those with English degrees gained many years ago in search of refreshment.No prior reading is required – though it always helps.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Access any Shakespeare play, staged, screened or in print, with greater confidence and enjoyment.
  • Participate with others in informed discussion of Shakespeare’s background and education and the evidence of his authorship of the plays, singly or collaboratively.
  • Explore the influence of earlier forms of drama, recognise how the architecture of the theatres of the time and theatrical conventions such as the all-male cast helped shape dramatic structure of the plays, and identify metatheatrical moments.
  • Recognise some of Shakespeare’s skills and techniques in adapting his sources, structuring plot, constructing ‘character’ through language, and using language to help control dramatic movement, establish location, direct actors and create atmosphere.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of ways in which Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted and appropriated over the centuries and featured in pictorial art and in music, as well as influencing the study of the human mind.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member

Download full course information sheet

Why Shakespeare? The Man, his Theatre, the Craftsmanship, Performance and Legacy

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course has been cancelled.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

Visa Credit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Debit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Electron payments supported by RBS WorldPay Mastercard payments supported by RBS WorldPay Maestro payments supported by RBS WorldPay JCB payments supported by RBS WorldPay Solo payments supported by RBS WorldPay
RBS WorldPay Payments Processing