Peter Hall from The Shakespeare Blog

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.257  Thursday, 14 September 2017


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

Date:         September 14, 2017 at 9:34:00 AM EDT

Subject:    Peter Hall from The Shakespeare Blog


The Shakespeare blog


Peter Hall and Shakespeare 

Posted: 13 Sep 2017 10:45 PM PDT


Sir Peter Hall


On 15 September 2017 theatres in the West End of London and on Broadway will dim their lights in memory of Sir Peter Hall whose death, aged 86, was announced on 12 September. This has become a recognised tribute to the great in the world of theatre, and nobody is more worthy of it than he. The theatre, especially the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, would today be completely different without his powerful influence.


At the age of only 29 Peter Hall was appointed to run the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he was already working as a director. His appointment must have come as something of a surprise since his reputation had been made by directing modern plays. It followed years under the leadership of Anthony Quayle, a distinguished actor and director who used his many connections to woo the biggest names in the London theatre to the Warwickshire playhouse. Glamorous actors such as Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Ralph Richardson, John Gielgud and Michael Redgrave, sumptuous settings and costumes, ensure that we look back on the 1950s as a bit of a golden age. Quayle’s years were successful, particularly in raising the profile of the Stratford theatre, but there was an acceptance that it could not last.


He shocked traditionalists, setting about changing everything. Gone were the stars, or at least most of them, and in came young actors, directors and designers. He rightly claimed that these young, talented artists would themselves become stars, and he brought in three-year contracts that gave them some stability. Among them were Peter O’Toole, Ian Richardson and Ian Holm.


He gave the theatre a forward-looking name: the Royal Shakespeare Theatre instead of Shakespeare Memorial Theatre and introduced changes that must have changed the experience of playgoing for audiences. He took away the velvet curtain and painted over the fire curtain that featured a scene of Shakespeare standing in the Warwickshire countryside.  After a couple of uncertain years Hall came up with the production that would define the fledgling RSC: The Wars of the Roses. Working with John Barton the three Henry VI plays (considered virtually unplayable) were conflated into two and with Richard III were played as a trilogy that could be seen in a day. The plays were performed on a single set designed by John Bury, with no decorative flourishes, and costumes that were similarly bold, but not sumptuous. Although young actors took many of the main roles Hall had not parted with all of them, notably Peggy Ashcroft, a past Cleopatra and Rosalind who played Queen Margaret in all three parts.  It was a triumph.


The Wars of the Roses looked historical, if not conventional. It was another production, in 1965, that announced to the world that Shakespeare at Stratford was modern. The young, gangly and not very heroic-looking David Warner was cast as Hamlet. He had already appeared as Henry VI in the Wars of the Roses. While the older generation wore conventional costumes, Warner’s Hamlet wore a costume accessory that immediately connected him to teenagers: a long red knitted scarf. Teenagers knitted their own red scarves and wore them to performances, and many theatre aficionados now in their sixties and seventies date their love of Shakespeare to attending either The Wars of the Roses or Hamlet.


Hall developed the idea of the Stratford company having a permanent London home to house transfers as well as modern plays. Shakespeare was treated as a political writer as relevant as any contemporary author. Hall wrote about the Henry VI plays “We are forced to experience the passionate responsibility of mother to son, of king to country, of people to king, of blood to blood.” These dynamic changes transformed the RSC in just a few years, attracting a younger, politically-aware audience.


Tributes to Sir Peter Hall have been written by everybody in the world of the arts. If you have missed it, an edition of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row included interviews with many distinguished people including the man who followed him in running the RSC, Trevor Nunn. This link is to a BBC 4 documentary Sir Peter Hall Remembered. 




SHAKESPEARE'S WOMEN at Fairleigh Dickenson University

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.256  Thursday, 14 September 2017


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

Date:         September 12, 2017 at 2:11:08 PM EDT

Subject:    SHAKESPEARE'S WOMEN at Fairleigh Dickenson University


The topic for the 2017 annual Shakespeare Colloquium at the Florham campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University is “Shakespeare’s Women.” The event will take place on Saturday, October 21 from 9:30-3:30 in Room S-11 (Sturchio Hall) in the Science Building. Sturchio Hall is handicap-accessible.


This will be the 25th year of these day-long Shakespeare gathering, which are free and open to the public.  New Jersey teachers are eligible for professional development hours for participating.  The Colloquium coordinator is Dr. Harry Keyishian, Professor Emeritus at Fairleigh Dickinson University. For further information, he may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The program is supported by the Columbia University Seminar on Shakespeare.


At 9:30, Dr. Iska Alter, Professor Emerita from Hofstra University, will discuss “Shakespeare’s Historical Queens,” focusing on the powerful and eloquent women in the early history plays and Richard III. Dr. Alter’s writings on Shakespeare, the Yiddish theater, American drama and ethnic American literature have been published in such journals as Theatre History Studies, Shakespeare Survey, Modern Drama and Shakespeare Bulletin as well as a number of edited collections.


At 10:45 Dr. Denise A.Walen of Vassar College discusses “Shakespeare’s Disappearing Women,” focusing on how important female roles have been cut in production over the years, including Juliet, Queen Margaret, Desdemona and Princess Kate, among others. Dr. Walen has directed many stage productions, including Twelfth Night and As You Like It. Her research and teaching focuses on dramatic literature and theory, theater history and women’s studies. She is the author of Constructions of Female Homoeroticism in Early Modern Drama and has published in Shakespeare Quarterly, Shakespeare Survey, andTheatre Journal, among other journals and edited collections.


After a lunch break from Noon–1 p.m., Dr. Phyllis Rackin, Professor Emerita at the University of Pennsylvania, will speak about “Cleopatras: What They Mean and Why They Matter.” Dr. Rackin discusses Shakespeare’s Cleopatra as well as other versions, ranging from ancient historians to modern films. A former president of the Shakespeare Association of America, Dr. Rackin  is author of four books on Shakespeare: Shakespeare’s TragediesStages of History: Shakespeare’s English ChroniclesShakespeare and Women, and, with Dr. Jean E. Howard, Engendering a Nation: A Feminist Account of Shakespeare’s English Histories. She has published more than 30 articles on Shakespeare and related subjects. She was voted one of the 25 Master Teachers of Shakespeare in the last 125 years in a survey of Shakespeare scholars conducted at the Folger Shakespeare Library.


At 2:15–3:30 p.m., veteran actress Ellen Barry will perform and discuss some of her favorite Shakespearean women, including those she has performed, such as Lady Percy, Queens Constance and Hermione, and Helena, among others. Ellen Barry has played more than 100 classic and contemporary roles in New York and regional theaters, including Tennessee Williams’ Blanche, Stella and Hannah; Shakespeare’s Kate Percy, Hermione and Constance; Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Maude in Bakersfield Mist and Nat in Rabbit Hole; and both Lorraine and Meg in Sam Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind. As Ella in Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman she won an Off-Off Broadway Award, and for Vivian Bearing in Wit she received a Michigan Best Leading Actress award from the Detroit Free Press. Her one-woman show, Lizzie Borden at Eight O’Clock, has played at venues in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She and her late husband, Paul Barry, founded the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival (now Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey).


Harry Keyishian

Professor Emeritus of English

Director Emeritus, FDU Press

Campus at Florham

Fairleigh Dickinson University

285 Madison Avenue, Madison.New Jersey 07940



Third Time’s a Charm (or Is It the Fourth?)

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.255  Tuesday, 12 September 2017


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

Date:         Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Subject:    Third Time’s a Charm (or Is It the Fourth?)


Well, once again, I made some sort of mistake and the Text Hackathlon link in my announcement did not work. I will check the link below several times to make sure that the problem does not occur again.






Continued Apologies: Text Hackathlon

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.254  Friday, 8 September 2017


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

Date:         Friday, September 8, 2017

Subject:    Continued Apologies: Text Hackathlon


Dear Subscribers,


It has been pointed out that the link in my yesterday apology worked correctly but that the one in the repeated message still generated an error. 


I assume that  must have closed the before saving it. I have gone back and corrected the files in the Archive


Once more, the correct link is




Theatre People of Shakespeare’s Time CFP

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.253  Friday, 8 September 2017


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

Date:         September 8, 2017 at 7:06:02 AM EDT

Subject:    Theatre People of Shakespeare’s Time CFP


CFP: A Special Issue of the Journal Shakespeare on ‘Theatre People of Shakespeare’s Time’


2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Richard Burbage, a member of the family who gave us the first purpose-built theatre in Shakespeare’s London. By exploring his life, and those around him, historians have been able to unearth much valuable information about the early modern theatre industry. Scholarship about other theatre people – prompted by their work, the archive, or both – has similarly added to our knowledge of the theatre in Shakespeare’s time. We have learnt about the period’s theatre from Philip Henslowe’s diary, Anthony Munday’s pageants, Richard Brome’s contract, and George Wilkins’ lawsuits. Though biography, according to George Eliot, is ‘a disease of English literature’, there is plenty to gain from considering some aspect of the lived experience of those involved in the theatre. With that in mind, this special issue of Shakespeare seeks submissions relating to theatre people of Shakespeare’s time. 


Papers might tackle (but are not limited to):


- A study of a theatre person’s life


- Some aspect of a theatre person's life, be it an appearance in the documentary record, a life event, or a temporal slice of their biography (per James Shapiro in 1599 and 1606)


- The relationships of a given theatre person or theatre people to one another

- The relationship of theatre people to events, persons, or places beyond the theatre industry


- Ignored or overlooked figures in the period's theatre 


- The relationships between theatre-connected institutions (such as playing companies, the court, the Stationers' Company) and how these affected particular theatre people


- How theatre people wielded and/or experienced the power of what E. K. Chambers called the ‘Forces of Control’


- A study of the biographical intersections of two or more theatre persons’ lives


- What theatre-biography tells us about play-authorship


- The during-life and/or posthumous reputations of particular early modern theatre people


Submissions (in the range of 5,000-9,000 words) are due by 1 March 2018. Fully‑anonymised typescripts should be sent to Paul Brown This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. All contributions will be peer-reviewed by two independent readers prior to acceptance.  





Lecturer in English

De Montfort University

Leicester, UK.



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