ONLINE THEATER COURSE
Shakespearean Comedy, Italian Style
Not only are half of Shakespeare’s more than thirty plays set in Italy, but his dynamic and provocative drama makes crucial use of numerous Italian plots, tropes, character types, theatrical devices, and cultural connotations. In particular, his comedies remain fresh and vigorous today thanks to the lively contrasts and rich variety of their Italian style. In this course, we’ll pursue close comparative study and interactive discussion of three well-known, much-admired, and frequently performed plays, to enhance our understanding of how their Italianate qualities continue to spark both abundant laughter and serious thought across the globe, over four hundred years after their first productions. By focusing on selected scenes from The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing, and Twelfth Night, we will be able to gain fresh insights into the parallels and differences among these comedies of love, and pursue informed conversations about their respective treatments of such matters as master-servant relations, generational conflicts, courtship and competition between the sexes, unconventional gender roles, and the powers of witty play-acting.
A special feature of the course is the opportunity to imagine and propose specific ways for bringing these classic Italian style plays from the page to the stage. Participants will be encouraged to approach them as inter-active scripts that pose challenging questions and invite a wide variety of interpretations, precisely because of their creative, often volatile, and always stimulating mix of English and “made in Italy” qualities.
- To understand how Shakespearean comedy adapts Italian culture, literature, and performing arts, in a variety of game-changing and audience-involving ways
- To cultivate historically informed close readings and analyses of classic theatrical scripts, that in turn enable fresh interpretations
- To consider how the genre of comedy, as developed by Shakespeare and his Italian role models and colleagues, can be serious as well as funny, often at the same time
- To make precise comparisons among diverse scripts, and to apply related creative ideas and insights to proposals for performing Shakespeare’s Italian style comedies in today’s world
For the past twenty years, Eric Nicholson (Ph.D., Yale University) has been teaching courses in literature and theatre studies at Syracuse University Florence, and at New York University, Florence. At both these venues and elsewhere, he has also directed numerous productions of classic plays, among them Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Tempest. Beyond lecturing, directing, and publishing widely in his field, Eric’s professional activity extends to acting, voice work, and public presentation: credits include Oberon in the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino production of Purcell’s Fairy Queen (Teatro Goldoni Florence, 2013), and Fool/Theseus in “Promised Endings: an Experimental Work-in-Progress based on Oedipus at Colonus and King Lear” (Verona, 2018). He is the narrator of the English video documentary for the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Firenze, and of English audio guides to museums in the Tuscan cities of Grosseto, and Massa Marittima. In full historical costume, he has appeared as Lorenzo the Magnificent, Leonardo da Vinci, and others in several live performance events, videos, and broadcasts, and most recently (2021) as Dante and Boccaccio for Rocky Ruggiero: Making Art and History Come to Life.
Virtual Classroom: Full access to an online educational platform with syllabus, videos of recordings, reading list, podcasts, discussion forum, and more.
Location: LIVE INTERACTIVE ON-LINE THEATER LECTURES
Readings to be provided to students in PDF format prior to the beginning of course.
Complete syllabus will be provided upon registration.
- ALL LECTURES WILL BE RECORDED AND AVAILABLE FOR VIEWING AT YOUR CONVENIENCE IN OUR VIDEO LIBRARY FOR THE DURATION OF THE COURSE