Adaptation and Interpretation: Shakespeare and Teen Film in the Classroom

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle in specialist publication


Just about every pupil has struggled at some point with William Shakespeare. He is still very much part of the curriculum in many countries, including Great Britain and Australia. How then do we as teachers ensure Shakespeare appeals to young minds? This paper discusses one such approach where using filmed adaptations engages both students and teachers as they come to share an understanding of Shakespeare's relevance to all ages. One of the major questions asked by students is why study Shakespeare? Students in the classroom often don’t recognise the relevance and “universality” inherent in Shakespeare’s works. How better to make Shakespeare both accessible and relatable in the classroom then through using examples from film, a medium students are now very familiar with. This paper will examine two recent films: Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Gil Junger’s 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). Both films are largely based around connections to music and popular culture, and are set in updated worlds of urban city and American high school. I will demonstrate how these specific approaches engage students and are used by these two filmmakers to convey both a certain interpretation of a play and its cultural relevance to their audiences. This paper will conclude that filmed adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays are a valuable means of introducing students to Shakespeare in the classroom. The productions reflect different interpretations of his works and allow students to come to a better understanding of the play than would be otherwise achieved through reading the text in isolation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
Specialist publicationInterpretations - Journal of the English Teachers' Association of Western Australia
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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