Acting Shakespeare - DRAM6590

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 6 30 (15) Mary McNulty checkmark-circle


The aim of this course is to introduce students to the specific acting challenges presented by the classical texts of Shakespeare and his contemporaries and to facilitate, through practice, an in depth examination of proven analytical and practical approaches to these challenges. Instruction in the analysis of language structure and verse forms, verse structure, style, metre, imagery and language texture forms a key component to this course.
Through a classical repertoire, the student will be taught a systematic analysis of verse structure which, they will learn, is an integral part of an actor's development. This work on unambiguous structural matters will enable the student actor to articulate experience in time, avoiding the risk of leaving performance at the level of the pursuit of feeling and expression. Focus will also be placed on how this analysis can direct the performer, facilitating discovery in both action and character.
The course will also create an awareness of the vocal, physical and emotional demands placed on the performer when working with these plays and through practice, promote knowledge of how the actor’s instrument can meet these demands.
The module will run in two parts, the first part focusing on the demands of the verse monologue and its performing challenges, culminating in a solo performance assessment. The second part will explore performance text analysis when working with group scenes and how this analysis can direct the performer. The course will close with assessed practical scene performances taken from classical texts accompanied by a written scene analysis for later submission.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 72
Private study hours: 228
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Monologue Performance (30%)
Written Scene Analysis (2,500 words) (30%)
Scene Study Performance (40%)

Reassessment methods:
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Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Barton, J. (1984) Playing Shakespeare. Royal Shakespeare Company, London Weekend Television Ltd.
Berry, C. (2001) Text In Action: A Definitive Guide To Exploring Text In Rehearsal For Actors And Directors. London, Virgin.
Bruder, M. Et Al (1986) A Practical Handbook For The Actor. New York, Vintage Books.
Hall, P. (2004) Shakespeare's Advice To The Players. London, Oberon.
Rodenburg, P. (2005) Speaking Shakespeare. London, Methuen.
Shakespeare, W. (2001) The Arden Shakespeare Complete Works. London, Arden Shakespeare.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the fundamental principles of acting techniques as they apply to classical texts;
2 demonstrate proficiency in analysing these texts thoroughly for performance self-direction;
3 achieved a deepened awareness of classical texts;
4 demonstrate critical understanding of the forms and structures used by poets and an appreciation of how text is structured and built, not only in classical plays, but also in contemporary works;
5 demonstrate vocal awareness, knowledge and expertise;
6 deliver specific, direct, active and well-observed text based performances;
7 deal with the challenge of balancing the heightened, emotional themes and content of classical plays with contemporary performance expectations;
8 demonstrate skills in play analysis and the close reading of plays;
9 critically review performance.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 demonstrate experience and skill in intelligent practice;
2 work constructively in practical situations with peers improved the clarity of their critical thinking;
3 demonstrate directorial skills;
4 demonstrate broad awareness and knowledge of research materials available;
5 demonstrate effective communication skills i.e. be able to write, question, and come to conclusions on a more independent level.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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