Faculty of Arts


Theatre on Screen


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 more ‘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 a seminar 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.

View the course syllabus

Availability 2021

Not offered in 2021; planned for 2022


Coordinator(s) Dr Sophie Tomlinson


Prescribed viewing:

Les Enfants du Paradis (1945); West Side Story (1961); Cabaret (1972); Mephisto (1981); Shakespeare in Love (1998); The Merchant of Venice (Dir. Nunn, 2001); The Maori Merchant of Venice / Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Wēniti (Dir. Selwyn, 2002); The Merchant of Venice (Dir. Radford, 2004).

Prescribed texts:

Christopher Isherwood, The Berlin Novels (Vintage); Klaus Mann, Mephisto (1936),transl.Robyn Smyth(Penguin, 1995); Jacques Prévert, Les Enfants du Paradis, transl. Dinah Brooke (via Canvas); Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman, Shakespeare in Love (Hyperion, 1999); Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, ed. Bate and Rasmussen (Macmillan, 2010).

Recommended Reading

Samuel Crowl, Shakespeare and Film: A Norton Guide (2008); Russell Jackson, Theatres on Film: How the Cinema Imagines the Stage (2013).


ENGLISH 709: 30.0 points

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