Shakespeare: Text and Performance

Julia Reinhard Lupton, Professor, English, University of California, Irvine

This curriculum guide focuses on three plays: Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, and Cymbeline. The reading list covers three genres (tragedy, comedy, romance) and leads from very familiar to less familiar works by Shakespeare. I use Artstor images to build out Shakespeare’s world and the worlds depicted in the plays; to explore themes from mythology and literature drawn on in these plays; to provide insight into subsequent stage history; and to inspire students’ own scenographic imaginations.

Section 1: Introduction to Shakespeare: Shakespeare and Renaissance Performance Spaces
This section uses images to explore the architecture of the Globe; other performance spaces and practices of the period; the mythos of Elizabeth I; and the layered, image- and affect-rich character of the Renaissance calendar.
View image group

Section 2: Romeo and Juliet:
Images are used to establish Verona as a locale in northern Italy. Introduce the classical source of the play, the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, through Renaissance art, especially home décor (plates, boxes, cassoni). Also highlighted are some of the staging choices made by eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth century directors and designers.
a) Verona and the Renaissance City View image group
b) Pyramus and Thisbe, a Classical Source with a Medieval Afterlife View image group
c) Staging Romeo and Juliet View image group

Section 3: Romeo and Juliet in Love:
Use images to illustrate a number of themes and features in Romeo and Juliet, including Shakespeare’s pharmacy / plant world; the Franciscans; Petrarchism and love imagery; and nurses and procuresses.
View image group

Section 4: Twelfth Night: Themes and Variations
Twelfth Night features several key themes, including ships and shipwrecks and music. The title refers to Christmas revels. View Jan Steen’s Depiction of 12th Night Christmas celebration–to what milieu in Shakepeare’s play does it most resemble? Cakes and ale associated with 12th night revels are shown in Jean Baptiste-Greuze’s Twelfth Night Cake. What is mood here?
a) Christmas Revels View image group
b) Renaissance Ships and Shipwrecks View image group
c) If Music be the Food of Love… View image group

Section 5: The Bedroom in Cymbeline
In the most famous scene of this play, the chaste wife Innogen is voyeuristically spied upon by the machinating Iachimo, who hides in a trunk in order to enter her room. He reports back incriminating details to her husband Posthumus, listing all of her furnishings as well as a mole on her breast. These material signs convince her husband of her infidelity. This image gallery attempts to reconstruct what her bedroom and its furnishings might have looked like. Explore the stories depicted on her luxury furnishings, including Antony and Cleopatra, Lucretia and Tarquin, and Diana and Actaeon. In a second lecture, look at Renaissance interiors in paintings from Annunciations to genre scenes, as well as aristocratic women as designers and curators of interior space (Isabella d’Este and Bess of Hardwick.)
a) View image group
b) View image group