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AO3: A focus on “different readings of texts”
Three steps to an “informed personal
1. Encountering the play
a) A ‘return to Shakespeare’
b) First reactions to the text as a whole
c) ‘Beyond liking or understanding’ – an objective look at your shared reactions
2. Working through the text using the AOs as a framework for detailed
a) AO2 – looking at language, action and structure
b) AO3 – views of the action within the text, by critics, and in performance
c) AO4 – issues of the time; reflections of the age (then/now); how the play works for
an audience
3. Focusing on the exam/possible questions (exam practice)
a) AO1 – core issues (the play’s central concerns)
b) AO2 – dramatic structure, setting, characterisation and register
c) AO3/4 – historic criticism and reception; modern criticism; significant/effective
d) AO4 – sources
Key AOs for AMND:
• critical understanding in analysis of language, form
and structure
• responses informed by interpretations of others
‘Interpretations of others’
1. Critical essays and quotes
“Candidates [...] need to consider different interpretations of their set texts. Many
candidates were able to name a range of well-known critics and engage with their debates,
which worked very well...”
“Perhaps an active focus in teaching on discovering critics rather than being given a list of
critical quotes to learn would be beneficial.”
Sources for AO3:
• Critical anthologies and study guides available for loan
• Essay pack and ‘crib sheet’ of critical quotes
• Critical interpretations throughout close study of scenes (on PPTs and
‘Interpretations of others’
2. Plays in performance
“...a substantial amount of comment on the plays in performance. This gave an excellent
source of (AO3) dramatic interpretation and informed some very intelligent arguments.”
“...much relevant and useful comment on the recent production of the play at
Shakespeare’s Globe.”
“There has been continued improvement in the use of performance based materials in
essays on drama texts. Strong focus on plays in the theatre has led not only to much
more efficient writing about how dramatic effects are generated and developed, and
how different ‘directorial’ decisions themselves constitute acts of criticism, but also to
plays being seen in the context of long and often complex theatrical histories.”
You are going to be given a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to present
to the rest of the class. Your presentation should take the form of a PowerPoint
(which can then be uploaded to the course website) and should contain the
following where possible:
Images of the main characters and scenes,
as well as staging and costume design
Video clips of key scenes
Key extracts from reviews, focusing on
interpretation, character, theme and the
success of the director’s interpretation
Any ‘behind the scenes’ information you
can find, particularly with reference to
directorial intent and interpretation
Any significant information regarding
casting, staging etc.
A summary of the production’s key
decision with regards to character, theme
and setting
Your opinion about the successes (or
otherwise) of the production
Peter Hall’s film version, starring Judi Dench,
Diana Rigg, Helen Mirren and Ian Holm (1968)
Adrian Noble’s
RSC production
(1994) and film
of this (1996)
(2 people)
The classic Max Reinhardt
and William Dieterle film
from 1935, starring James
Cagney and Mickey
Michael Hoffman’s 1999
adaptation, starring
Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert
Peter Brook’s massively
influential RSC production,
starring Ben Kingsley and
Francis de la Tour (1970)
Gregory Doran’s RSC
production (2005)
Peter Hall’s
2011 version
for Rose
starring Judi
Dench. (Can
link with the
person looking
at their 1968
Nancy Meckler’s RSC
production (2011)
Tim Supple’s RSC
production (2006)
The Globe, 2013
Propeller, 2013-14
(currently touring)