Faculty of Arts


Theatre on Screen

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for ENGLISH 709.


Theatrical performance and dramatic composition present alluring subjects for modern cinema. This course examines a range of mainstream and art house films which create commercial and aesthetic appeal by engaging the shifting line between art and life, reality and theatre.

Students are encouraged to draw on their varied academic backgrounds to investigate questions pertaining to theatre and theatricality in the set films and their source materials, and in particular to become ‘film literate’.

We address critical themes via the analysis of films, screenplays, plays, novels, and critical articles. These themes include: imagining period theatre; spectatorship; gender and sexuality; theatre as a business; theatre and politics; the role of music; adaptation.

In 2018 we focus on three overlapping genres: the backstage drama; musical drama on film; and theatre, sexuality, and politics.

Course goals

  • To become what Vincent Lobruttocalls,‘film literate’, in particular to become aware of different directors’ use of shot, scene and sequence, which contributes to their distinctive film rhetorics.
  • To grow confident in expressing your ideas orally to the group, specifically in the form of starting-questions and seminars for assessment.
  • To refine the expression of your ideas in writing by conducting a critical argument in the form of two essays for assessment.
  • To acquire competence in using printed and digital research tools relevant to the works studied.

Course delivery

1 x three-hour seminar weekly

View the course syllabus

Availability 2018

Semester 1


Coordinator(s) Dr Sophie Tomlinson


Prescribed viewing:

Les Enfants du Paradis (dir. Carné, 1945); West Side Story (1961); Cabaret (dir. Fosse, 1972); Mephisto (dir. Szabó, 1981), Shakespeare in Love (1998); Titus(dir. Taymor, 1999), Merchant of Venice (dir. Radford, 2004),The Maori Merchant of Venice (dir. Selwyn, 2002) andVenus in Fur (dir. Polanski, 2013).

Prescribed texts:

Christopher Isherwood, Goodbye to Berlin (1939), Klaus Mann, Mephisto (1936); Jacques Prévert, Les Enfants du Paradis, transl. Dinah Brooke (via Canvas); John van Druten, I Am A Camera; Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman, Shakespeare in Love (Hyperion); Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice ed. Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen (Macmillan); Titus Andronicus, ed. Jonathan Bate, Arden 3 (Bloomsbury) David Ives; Venus in Fur (Dramatists Play Service).

Recommended Reading

Samuel Crowl, Shakespeare and Film: A Norton Guide (2008); Russell Jackson, Theatres on Film: How the Cinema Imagines the Stage (2013); Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Venus in Furs, tr. Fernanda Savage (Renaissance Classics, 2012); Klaus Mann Mephisto, tr. Robyn Smyth (Penguin).


1 x starting-question (5%)
Oral seminar (10%)
Short essay 3,500-4,000 words (20%)
Long essay, 6000 words (65%)


ENGLISH 709: 30.0 points



Contact details | Search | Accessibility | Copyright | Privacy | Disclaimer | 1