Much Ado about Shakespeare

Ref: C2340868

If you find Shakespeare daunting, wonder what all the fuss is about, or if you are a devotee who wants to share and deepen your enjoyment of his work this course is for you. An opportunity to explore a well-known play, Richard II through reading, watching and discussion. So is the overthrow of a mediaeval king by his cousin relevant to a time when the monarch has little or no power? What is the function of government? If it appears to be failing is it right to overthrow it violently? No ruler whether hereditary or elected can exercise power without the loyalty of their followers, as our present Prime Minister knows. Why and when should loyalty be withdrawn from a properly constituted government? What are the consequences, for the ruler, the usurper, the government and the nation, and succeeding generations? Richard's deposition led, as Shakespeare's audience knew, to the three generations of civil war we know as the Wars of the Roses. What will Brexit do to "this sceptred isle?"

Course aim

We will study Shakespeare's Richard II and complete it in one term. Its themes of the leadership qualities required of a ruler, the responsibilities of both ruler and ruled and loyalty in government are as relevant today, as they ever were.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • For this course you need only an enthusiasm for Shakespeare and his theatre

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

  • Approach Shakespeare’s works without fear
  • Identify the themes of Richard II and explore their relevance throughout time.
  • Discuss the richness of Shakespeare’s language and ideas in his only play written entirely in verse
  • Explore the opportunities and problems of staging Richard II

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
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • Ideally students should see a performance of Richard II, if possible the Almeida Theatre production, which is to be broadcast live to local cinemas on January 15

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
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • All materials will be provided
  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you
  • Students may wish to obtain their own copy of the play for private reading. Students are encouraged to review the information on-line on the National Theatre Live web-site.

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
  • Ideally students should see a performance of Richard II, if possible the Almeida Theatre production, which is to be broadcast live to local cinemas on January 15

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
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation

Download full course information sheet

Much Ado about Shakespeare


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

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