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Language, relatability, and ease of access: bringing the works of Shakespeare to a wider audience

Scheller-Wolf, Lauren Tara (2022) Language, relatability, and ease of access: bringing the works of Shakespeare to a wider audience. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The works of William Shakespeare are one of the pillars of the Western theatrical canon and bear a great deal of cultural significance in our modern world. However, many people today struggle to understand these more than 400-year-old stories, finding the plays intimidating and believing that Shakespeare is not something they will be able to connect with or understand. This paper explores three key barriers which often make Shakespeare inaccessible to members of the public (Language, Relatability, and Ease of Access) as well as the strategies four Shakespearian theatre companies have developed to overcome these barriers. These companies are the Shakespeare Youth Festival (Los Angeles), Flute Theatre (London), Shakespeare Behind Bars (Kentucky and Michigan), and Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks (Pittsburgh). These strategies were tested and put into practice through The Shakespeare Exploration Project, a tabling project designed to make the works of Shakespeare more accessible to the public.

This research offers the following conclusions: in order to make Shakespeare more accessible for all, it is necessary to lean into the large emotions of Shakespeare’s characters, focus on the rhythms inherent in Shakespeare’s verse (specifically iambic pentameter), and make the theatre space itself into a welcoming and accepting environment where participants and audience members feel free to be themselves and explore. The lessons learned through this research will be useful for any theatre practitioner attempting to make their work more accessible and open to all.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Scheller-Wolf, Lauren TaraLTS22@pitt.eduLTS22
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorWalker,
Committee MemberDowns, Gianni
Committee MemberGeorge, Kathleen
Green-Rogers, Martine
Date: 24 April 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 24 February 2022
Approval Date: 24 April 2022
Submission Date: 10 April 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 149
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Theater Arts
David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Shakespeare, Theatre, Accessibility,
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2022 16:38
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2022 16:38

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  • Language, relatability, and ease of access: bringing the works of Shakespeare to a wider audience. (deposited 24 Apr 2022 16:38) [Currently Displayed]


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