Emma Rice Joins Shakespeare’s Globe as the New Artistic Director

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.214  Monday, 11 May 2015


From:        Hardy Cook < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. >

Date:         May 10, 2015 at 3:29:22 PM EDT

Subject:    Emma Rice Joins Shakespeare’s Globe as the New Artistic Director


We are thrilled to announce Emma Rice as the new Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe. Emma will take up the position as the Globe’s third Artistic Director in April 2016 when Dominic Dromgoole steps down.

Emma is currently joint Artistic Director of Cornish-based theatre company Kneehigh and an independent director, having produced award-winning productions that are widely recognised to have an immediate connection with audiences and are seen all over the world.


Emma remarked "Open to the elements, and to its audience, this unique and important space demands theatre that brims with passion, joy and humanity. Mindful of the extraordinary artists I follow, I will take custody of this incredible organisation with an open heart, fierce passion and excited mind."


Neil Constable, Chief Executive, observed "Her spirit and energy, her love of Shakespeare and her wholehearted and passionate response to the Globe’s architecture and audiences make her a worthy candidate in what has been a widely sought-after role."



The first Artistic Director of the Globe was Mark Rylance followed by our current Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole, who will complete the recently opened Summer season and one more Winter season in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, departing once the Globe to Globe Hamlet tour completes its two-year adventure next April.


Review: Mating-Season Mood Swings in Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.212  Monday, 11 May 2015


From:        Hardy Cook < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. >

Date:         May 1, 2015 at 1:24:26 PM EDT

Subject:    Review: Mating-Season Mood Swings in Two Gentlemen of Verona 




Review: Mating-Season Mood Swings in ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’

By Ben Brantley

April 30, 2015


For those of you who had been wondering if spring had decided to skip New York this year, there has been a confirmed sighting of that elusive season at Theater for a New Audience’s Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn. Fresh sap, tickling breezes, blushing blooms — yep, they’re all in evidence. So is the tendency of emerging specimens of human fauna to seize the day as if it were made exclusively for mating.


With impeccable timing, Fiasco Theater’s frolicking production of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” opened on Thursday night, which happened to have been the last day of April. This is a play, after all, that sees “the spring of love” as having “the uncertain glory of an April day,” in which sun and storms jostle for ascendancy.


The speaker of those words is one of this slight but pliable comedy’s title characters, though whether he qualifies as a real gentleman has always been open to debate. His name is Proteus, played here by Noah Brody. And in his attitudes, moods and affections, he is easily as variable as April.


Still, what do you expect? He’s young, as was Shakespeare when he invented Proteus, in what may have been his first play. Directed by Jessie Austrian and Ben Steinfeld, this “Two Gentlemen of Verona” makes a case for a little-loved comedy as a testament to the charms of vacillating youth, struggling to find its path and its form in the green season.


A small troupe with an expansive imagination and an eagerness to wrestle with thorny classics, Fiasco has quickly become a force to reckon with in American theater. Deploying small casts, minimal sets and sparklingly lucid powers of interpretation, Fiasco is the troupe that earlier this year presented what is perhaps the most accessible version ever of the knotty Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical “Into the Woods.”


[ . . . ]


Unlike those plays, “Gentlemen” has never commanded much respect among scholars. It is a skipping portrait of arbitrary desires in which character is bent like a pretzel to accommodate a convoluted plot. (It is perhaps best known for the hedonistic 1971 musical it inspired.) Many Shakespeare analysts, a tribe not known for whimsy, seem to agree that the most intriguing figure in “Gentlemen” isn’t even human, but a very shaggy dog named Crab.


This production doesn’t undermine that assessment. How could it, when Crab’s flea-filled fur is inhabited so winningly by Zachary Fine (who also portrays Valentine, the other title character)?


But Fiasco also finds a beguiling continuity in the play’s erratic behavior, in which an unformed author and his untried characters are both groping for their identities. In a program note, the team explains that they regard “Gentlemen” as “a first draft at love,” a preamble to more mature depictions of richer lives.


Such an interpretation tracks nicely with the text, in which uncertain romancers seem forever to be writing and losing and tearing up declarations of passion. Derek McLane’s set is an enchanting bower of what at first glance appear to be walls of layered white flowers but on closer inspection prove to be crumpled sheets of scribbled-upon paper.


A corresponding sense of teeming hearts and minds tentatively testing their mettle abounds. All the play’s characters (attired in Easter pastels by Whitney Locher) partake in verbal games of one-upmanship. They are not, by the standards of later Shakespeare, terribly sophisticated games. But this production allows us to feel the rush of pleasure these awkward wordsmiths derive from the competition.


Of course, it’s not just pleasure that’s being experienced. People are hurt in “Two Gentlemen,” which presents a fragile daisy chain of romantic entanglements. When the play begins, the title characters are inseparable friends, of a single mind, except that Proteus is head over heels for Julia (Ms. Austrian), and Valentine thinks love is just foolish.


Well, not for long. Valentine goes to Milan, at his father’s behest, and immediately falls for the charming Sylvia (Emily Young). When Proteus follows his friend there, he, too, is smitten with Sylvia and determines to betray Valentine to win her. In the meantime, the doting Julia disguises herself as a boy and hurries to Milan, where she discovers that her beloved’s undying love for her is dead.


This would all end in tears if “Gentlemen” had been written with any strict psychological logic. Instead, it offers one of the least credible happy endings in the canon.


But this production sees in the text a mirror for the irrationality that comes with being young, mercurial and at the mercy of metabolic changes that the sober mind can’t begin to make sense of. It’s not just Proteus who’s a chameleon here. All the characters, even the relatively steadfast women, are subject to moods that match the weather.


As is usual with Fiasco productions, the ensemble members — six in total, rounded out perfectly by Paul L. Coffey and Andy Grotelueschen as crafty manservants of contrasting temperaments — play multiple parts, including a banished band of brigands. (Don’t ask.) They also play musical instruments and sing gentle ballads of love’s waywardness in close harmony.


The four lovers are packed here with emotions that are ultimately as narcissistic as they are intense. (You can imagine them all running to the mirror to see themselves feeling deeply.) So while they match up symmetrically and prettily for the final scene, you kind of doubt that these couples are destined for a happily-ever-after eternity.


The most persuasive love match here is between Proteus’s put-upon servant, Launce (Mr. Grotelueschen), and his dog, Crab (Mr. Fine, in a bulbous black nose, is priceless). When Launce complains about the sacrifices he makes for the love of this dog, we are certain that this guy — unlike the other characters — is enduringly sincere.


And this production’s most memorable kiss is between said dog and his master. Call it puppy love, if you will, but it promises to be a far more lasting commitment than anything between frivolous, fickle human beings.



[ . . . ]


Few English Majors Have to Take Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.211  Sunday, 10 May 2015


From:        Al Magary <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 24, 2015 at 6:59:42 PM EDT

Subject:    Few English Majors Have to Take Shakespeare


Shakespeare getting little love from American colleges

By Nanette Asimov

San Francisco Chronicle, April 23, 2015




American academia is lowering the curtain on William Shakespeare more than 4½ centuries after his birth.


Happy 451st birthday, Bill.


A new study finds that English departments at just four of 52 top-ranked universities require English majors to take a course on the 16th century playwright and poet who is considered the English-speaking world’s greatest man of letters.


UC Berkeley is one of the four.


“Our department feels very strongly about this,” said Professor Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe, who chairs the English department at UC Berkeley. “Shakespeare is the single most influential writer in English. Not only that, he’s one of the most supremely absorbing writers in any language. We couldn’t imagine how a student could achieve a degree in English without taking a course in Shakespeare.”


Only Harvard, Wellesley and the United States Naval Academy share that view, according to the study released Thursday — believed to be the Bard’s birthday — by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a nonprofit group in Washington, D.C., that focuses on academic freedom and holding “colleges and universities accountable.”


Universities surveyed


The study, “The Unkindest Cut: Shakespeare in Exile,” looks at the 26 top-ranked universities in the nation — including the eight Ivy League schools — and the 26 top liberal arts colleges as ranked by this year’s U.S. News & World Report, and found more than 92 percent do not require English majors to take a course on Shakespeare.


Stanford is one of them.


“The Stanford English department defines its required courses according to broad concepts and historical periods, rather than single authors,” said its chairman, Gavin Jones, noting that Shakespeare is covered in introductory courses and electives. “So, the Bard is still alive and well in our department.”


Pomona College near Los Angeles, one of the nation’s best liberal arts colleges, doesn’t require Shakespeare in part because the school has just 1,600 students and fewer than 200 faculty members, making it hard to lock in a Shakespeare course, said Kevin Dettmar, the English department chair.


Choosing authors


Instead, English majors spend a semester focusing on one author of their choice, and the Shakespeare class always fills up to the maximum of 18 students, as do classes on Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Toni Morrison, to name a few.


“It would be disingenuous to pretend that Shakespeare doesn’t have a different kind of cultural authority than any other author,” Dettmar said. “It does. But we are trying to diversify the student body. Their faces don’t look like the faces of the students who took the required Shakespeare course at 18th century Harvard. There is other literature that connects more to their experience.”


Anne Neal, president of the council that conducted the study, rejects that argument.


“Although it’s surely important for college students to study a wide array of literature from every part of the world, it is frankly ridiculous to be graduating future English teachers who have little more than a high school knowledge of Shakespeare. ... We’ll be writing to trustees at every institution asking why they are dis-serving students in this way.”


The study shows that schools have plenty of substitutes for Shakespeare, who is credited with writing 37 plays and 154 sonnets.


At the University of Pennsylvania last fall, students could take “Pulp Fictions: Popular Romance from Chaucer to Tarantino” to fulfill the Ivy League school’s early literature requirement. The catalog described the works as “readable, often salacious, and certainly never dull.”


At Cornell, “Love and Ecstasy: Forms of Devotion in Medieval English Literature” helps fulfill the pre-1800 literature course requirement. At Haverford, “not a single course on the Bard” is offered on campus, the study says.


As Duke Senior says in “As You Like It,” “True is it that we have seen better days.”


Or as the study’s lead author, Michael Poliakoff says, English departments that eschew a Shakespeare requirement yet claim to provide a true liberal arts education are “full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.”


Shakespeare does beg to be quoted. But after four centuries, even the Shakespeare joke has gotten old: “Why are his plays so filled with cliches?”


Some professors say there are great reasons to study Shakespeare (though none as good as murmuring a Shakespeare sonnet to woo your sweetheart).


“Shakespeare is a really good way of explaining literary history,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Salinas, associate chair of the English department at the United States Naval Academy, which requires English majors to study Shakespeare.


Parallel storylines


On Thursday, Salinas is teaching “Moby Dick,” by Herman Melville. Students familiar with “Hamlet” will recognize that when Starbuck thinks of killing Ahab and decides not to, Melville echoes Hamlet thinking of killing Claudius and deciding not to, Salinas said.


“Shakespeare becomes the lingua franca in the department,” he said. “So when you’re reading 'Moby Dick’ you can point out the references and they have that aha! moment, rather than having to laboriously explain.”


At Berkeley, O’Brien O’Keeffe said she is sorry there are so few schools that still require Shakespeare. “But I’m glad we’re one of them.”



Nanette Asimov is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. 


REED Publication Announcement: ‘On the Road Again: A digital forum in the history of entertainment and culture’

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.210  Sunday, 10 May 2015


From:        Sally-Beth MacLean <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         May 4, 2015 at 1:05:37 PM EDT

Subject:    REED Publication Announcement: On the Road Again: A digital forum in the history of entertainment and culture



‘On the Road Again: A digital forum in the history of entertainment and culture



This new online resource integrates four scholarly projects on a modular extensible platform, to support the ability to make linkages between different aspects of performance history over time, and to work interactively with other theatre historians on creating new scholarship. The forum has been built using the open-source Drupal platform and Openlayers GIS mapping through partnership with the University of Toronto Libraries (Digital Library and Web Services Group - for database design and sustainability), and the Department of Geography (GIS and Cartography Office – for interactive mapping.) The forum includes two previous digital database projects in the history of itinerant performance, while adding two more.


  1. Records of Early English Drama (REED): Patrons and Performances <https://reed.library.utoronto.ca> 
  2. Juba Project (Early Blackface Minstrelsy in Britain) 
  3. Fringes of Show Business in Canada West: Performance culture in Southern Ontario to 1919 (new) 
  4. The Exhibition and Reception of American Popular Film in Canada (new)  

We are grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for making this work possible through a Connections grant. The partners involved are listed on the individual project sites. 

Shakespearean Performance Research Group 2015 CFP

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.209  Sunday, 10 May 2015


From:        Don Weingust <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 30, 2015 at 11:55:34 AM EDT

Subject:    Shakespearean Performance Research Group 2015 CFP


The Shakespearean Performance Research Group


Conveners: Catherine Burriss (California State University, Channel Islands), Franklin J. Hildy (University of Maryland), Rob Ormsby (Memorial University of Newfoundland), Don Weingust (Southern Utah University / Utah Shakespeare Festival), and W. B. Worthen (Barnard College, Columbia University)


American Society for Theatre Research 2015 Conference

Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront Hotel

November 5-8, 2015



The Shakespearean Performance Research Group of the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) provides an ongoing home for the study of Shakespearean performance within ASTR.


In the disciplinary ferment of the 1980s, Shakespeare studies seemed to claim a stake in nearly everything: defining disciplines, political critique, the role of the academy, historicism, theory, and so on. And yet while Shakespeare looms large in the agenda of English and literary studies, Shakespeare figures differently in theatre and performance studies, both in terms of the development of the field(s) and today. What kind of work does the figure of Shakespeare, Shakespeare studies, and Shakespeare performance do in theatre and performance studies today? Are there specific stakes for the field that emerge in relation to Shakespeare studies, or for which Shakespeare studies is a useful instrument, metaphor, instance? Are there larger, deeper stakes in play evoked by the intersection of Shakespeare, theatre, performance? In keeping with the 2015 conference theme, we invite papers addressing these questions. While making these themes our primary focus, in keeping with the raisons d’être of ASTR Research Groups, we will also consider paper submissions on our current publishing project dealing with the evolution into modern times of the concept of the Elizabethan Revival, or “Original Practices” as it is now known. Papers addressing “Original Practices” from its early modern “origins,” through a variety of recovery/restoration efforts, to the present, are welcome, as are papers addressing this issue across performance media. Contributions examining OP in theory and practice will be considered for inclusion in a planned book project that will mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016.


Selected papers will be assigned to subgroups by the group’s conveners, Catherine Burriss, Franklin J. Hildy, Robert Ormsby, Don Weingust, and W. B. Worthen, and the conveners will organize on-line communication of subgroup members before the conference. At the conference session, papers will be discussed first within subgroups, after which the subgroups will come together to exchange ideas.


Please send a 250-word abstract along with a brief bio by May 31, 2015 to the conveners at:


 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Members will be notified by the end of June whether their proposals have been accepted for the working group.

More information about ASTR and the Portland conference may be found at http://www.astr.org



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