Virtual Course | Shakespeare on Film with Gage Johnston

Date / Time

  • April 14, 2021
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
  • April 28, 2021
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
  • May 12, 2021
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
  • May 26, 2021
    6:30 pm - 8:30 pm




Before the first meeting, The Rosenbach will send the Zoom link for course meetings. 



For modern audiences, Shakespeare lives on the screen as much as on the stage. His plays have proved to be endlessly interpretable, with every age and every artist finding a unique way to bring the plays to life. In this class we will discuss the interpretation of Shakespeare’s work as it becomes film. We will consider four plays; Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth. Each session we will consider two filmed versions of these plays–and compare and contrast the interpretations and the manner these interpretations are underscored with text interpretations, camera shots, setting, actor choice, sound and lighting. In two hours we cannot analyze an entire film, so we will highlight famous scenes, (“to be or not to be” Branagh vs. Gibson) and move from traditional interpretations to looser ones (Branagh’s Hamlet vs. Kurosawa’s Macbeth–Throne of Blood).

All sessions will be held on Zoom and you will receive the link shortly before the first session. All participants are responsible for their own internet connections. All films are available as DVDs or to stream. You may read any edition of the play you choose.

Shakespeare on Film with Gage Johnston Syllabus


About the Instructor

Gage Johnston has been making films for the past 20 years. FABRIC OF LIFE, three documentaries following women across the globe as they use traditional crafts to transform their communities, is her current project. Her films have screened at numerous festivals both internationally and locally including the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema and opening the Philadelphia Museum of Art films series in 2006. Her films have be carried on public television and various streaming services. She taught writing and production at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts and Scribe Video Center. She has worked in theater in New York and Philadelphia, founding The Red Heel Theater Company and Simply Classic Theater Company, where she focused on both Shakespearean and lesser known classical playwrights. She is the co-host of the biweekly Tudor Time Machine podcast.


About Rosenbach Courses

Revisit beloved classics or experience new ones with Rosenbach courses. Book lovers delve into fiction, history, and poetry with the guidance of a literary expert and the company of other readers. See all upcoming courses.