Faculty of Arts


Theatre on Screen


Course Description

Theatrical performance and dramatic composition present alluring subjects for modern cinema. "Theatre on Screen" 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 2019 we focus on three overlapping genres: Shakespeare on screen; the backstage drama; and theatre, sexuality and politics.

Course Goals

  • To become what Vincent Lobrutto calls,"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


100 % coursework

Availability 2019

Semester 1


Coordinator(s) Dr Sophie Tomlinson


Prescribed viewing:

Les Enfants du Paradis (1945); West Side Story (1961); Cabaret (1972); Mephisto (1981); Shakespeare in Love (1998); Titus (1999); Hamlet (multiple versions); Venus in Fur (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 (1951); Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman, Shakespeare in Love (Hyperion, 1999); Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, ed. Jonathan Bate (Arden Shakespeare, rev. ed., 2018); Hamlet (any scholarly edition); David Ives, Venus in Fur (2012).

Recommended Reading

David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction, 10th ed. (2012); Russell Jackson, Theatres on Film: How the Cinema Imagines the Stage (2013); Samuel Crowl, Shakespeare and Film: A Norton Guide (2008).


ENGLISH 709: 30.0 points



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