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Spring 2022

Shakespeare History Plays

Course Description: This semester, we will finish Shakespeare’s history plays. The plays have been organized in a historical chronology, rather than in the order of when the works were published or performed. Shakespeare’s cycle of history plays spans more than three hundred years, including in its sweep the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453), the Wars of the Roses –fought between the houses of Lancaster and York (branches of the Plantagenet family) for the English throne – and the rise of the House of Tudor. On this journey, Shakespeare acts as both chronicler and poet as he recounts the history of England through the lens of his imagination, sometimes inventing a memorable group of ordinary people who gather in a London tavern. Out of this group arises a modern political leader, Prince Hal, and Shakespeare inserts real historic facts. This collection of plays amounts to a pertinent commentary on the politics of the House of Tudor and is a cautionary tale of a divided world.

There are no pre-requirements, and material will be provided when needed to fill potential gaps. You do need to read the other history plays to join in. 


Mondays 5-6:30 pm 

Workshop Richard III, with Emily MacLeod

 Workshop description: Readings from RIII’s scenes with women. Discussion about the role of gender and disability in the play more broadly. Director’s choices. Small and large group discussions. The goal is to engage with the text as actors do

Emily MacLeod (she/her) is currently a Ph.D. candidate in English at George Washington University where she is finishing her dissertation on early modern drama and performance. She has taught Shakespeare and British literature at GWU at the introductory and upper levels. She recently served as a dramaturg for the Brave Spirits Theatre Histories project, where she worked on both parts of Henry IV and Richard III (which was sadly curtailed due to COVID-19). Her research interests include early modern child actors, race, disability, gender, and skill. Other favorite theatrical projects include devising plays with TheatreTruck in western Massachusetts and directing at the American Shakespeare Center Theater Camp in Staunton, Virginia. She received her MA in Shakespeare Studies from King’s College London in conjunction with Shakespeare’s Globe in 2015


Advance registration is required for all events and classes. Please use the form below to register. You will receive the Zoom link via email.

Register for the History Marathon!

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