Shakespeare wrote for a popular audience and was immensely successful. Shakespeare is also rightly regarded as one of the greatest playwrights the world has known. This course will try to understand both Shakespeareâ€™s popularity and his greatness by starting from a simple premise: that the fullest appreciation of Shakespeare can be achieved only when literary study is combined with analysis of the plays as theatre. Hence, as we delve into the dimensions that make Shakespeareâ€™s plays so extraordinary--from the astonishing power of their language to their uncanny capacity to illuminate so much of human life--we will also explore them in performance from Shakespeareâ€™s own theatre to the modern screen. At the same time, actors will occasionally join our effort and demonstrate ways of bringing the text alive as living theatre. Plays to be studied will include Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, King Lear, and The Winter's Tale.