Look on Beauty: Four Professional Development Workshops
for English and Drama educators for 2019.

The day-long workshops use four of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays – ANTONY & CLEOPATRA, LOVE’S LABOURS LOST, CYMBELINE, and TWELFTH NIGHT – to focus on concepts of beauty and aesthetics in social-political discourse in the public space, and how to present these issues (aesthetics, value judgements, and complexity) in the classroom.

“Beauty” assumes the ability to make an “impact” on the viewer or listener, which assumes the viewer/listener is willing to stop, look, listen, and evaluate the “beautiful” event, text, image, person, etc. Classical concepts of beauty are often considered elitist or irrelevant, as well as symbols of an assumed cultural privilege. Post-modern judgements vie with hierarchies of status. “Shakespeare” – himself problematic when discussing the “beauty” of his verse, for example – shows us that these arguments and tensions are not new. How does one teach a concept of “beauty” without instilling a certain value system? What are the ways we learn to evaluate, discriminate and incorporate the “beautiful” in our lives today, in an era of public incivility? These are some of the questions raised in the context of the four plays studied.

The series title, Look on Beauty comes from The Merchant of Venice: “Look on beauty,
And you shall see ‘tis purchased by weight...” (Act III, scene 2)

The workshops are led by Louis Fantasia, Artistic Associate of the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles and Director of the SCLA/UCLA Summer Shakespeare Institute at the Clark Memorial Library. Louis was the Director of the Shakespeare Globe’s London Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance Institute from 1997-2002; and Shakespeare at the Huntington, the teacher training institute of the Huntington Library from 2005-2017.

Antony Cleopatra.jpg

Antony & Cleopatra

The workshop focuses on two conflicting world-views of "beauty" - the marble-chiseled masculinity of Rome, and the fluid femininity of Egypt. The last of Shakespeare's Roman plays, Antony & Cleopatra explores questions of age, gender roles, and the power dynamics put in pursuit of beauty... and love!

FEBRUARY 16, 2019 9:30 AM - 3:30 PM

love's labour lost.jpg

Love’s Labour’s Lost

We will look at one of Shakespeare's earliest and most light-hearted comedies, which runs on the assumption that some lucky people are more beautiful, rich and powerful than others. Yet the young playwright turns this notion on its head, with a "coup de theatre" that reminds us that Death comes for us all - no matter how rich or beautiful we may be.

MAY 4th, 2019 9:30 AM - 3:30 PM



One of Shakespeare's late Romances, Cymbeline looks at the beauty of fidelity and constancy in the face of utmost adversity, and put forward the assumption that one's "inner beauty" will shine forth in the times of most need. Moreover, Shakespeare seems to advocate that not only will this inner beauty be recognized and acknowledged, but that it has the power to transform other into doing good, rather than evil.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2019 9:30 AM - 3:30 PM

twelfth night.jpg

Twelfth Night

Set in what critic Jan Kott called "Shakespeare's bitter Arcadia," Twelfth Night explores the assumptions of beauty in gender role and status. Can a character (often a woman in Shakespeare) be "cruel" and "beautiful"? Does "Nature" have a "divine order" that values certain types of beauty or conduct over others? Who creates this order, and who benefits from it?

DECEMBER 14, 2019 9:30 AM - 3:30 PM