Much Ado about Shakespeare

Ref: C2341580

So how is Othello relevant today? It is a story of the envy and racism of one man destroying another. One where the dupe gradually finds that his confident view of the world and his place in it is based on flimsy foundations. Only when he has lost everything will he know how little he understood the value of what he had. We think of Othello as a story of sexual jealousy, of (in)appropriate relations between men and women: fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, lovers and mistresses. What is a woman’s place in this male dominated society? It is a story too of soldiers’ life on a foreign posting and the tensions that build waiting for action and of the interplay of personal and public life. But above all, in seeking Iago’s motives, we find a story of envy of others’ achievements, of bitterness when interlopers of other race or class seem to get the job, the money, the esteem which you believe rightly to be yours. All fuelling a Breivik-style ambition.

Course aim

We will study Shakespeare's Othello and complete it in one term. Its themes of envy and jealousy, prejudice, suspicion, lack of trust and ingratitude are as relevant today as in Shakespeare's time.

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, and a curiosity to explore further.

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

  • Approach Shakespeare’s works without fear
  • Identify the themes of Othello and explore their relevance throughout time
  • Discuss the richness of Shakespeare’s language and ideas
  • Explore the opportunities and problems of staging Othello, both in the seventeenth century and today

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
  • You will be expected to carry out a range of activities in your own time
  • Each two hour session will have a variety of activities: we shall read the play, clarify its meaning, explore the wider resonance of the text; discover the stories that were Shakespeare’s sources, watch and discuss excerpts from professional performances, and occasionally act out a scene.

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
  • Discussion is an important part of the course and your questions and comments will be important. You will have the opportunity to prepare passages for reading in class, and may be asked occasionally to study short pieces or consider a theme for discussion in class.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • 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
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • Students may wish to obtain their own copy of the play for private reading.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Any opportunity to see a performance of Othello on stage or screen before or during the course would be welcome

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information
  • You could find yourself a lifelong devotee of Shakespeare and his theatre

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 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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