(Stay tuned for a summary of the final day of BritGrad…)
We interrupt our somewhat irregularly scheduled post-BritGrad programming to bring you this message:
Check out this weird and wonderful new take on the complete works of Shakespeare – as told by experimental theatre company Forced Entertainment. 36 plays, 9 days, one meter table top – and a collection on unextraordinary everyday items as stand-ins for characters. ‘Complete Works: Table top Shakespeare’ live streams every day June 25 – July 4 atforcedentertainment.com – more info and how to watch here: http://ow.ly/OaDcK
Table Top Shakespeare started today!
Yesterday, we completed DAY ONE of BritGrad’s 2015 conference. A write-up of Thursday’s events will appear soon. For now, I’d like to summarize what happened on Wednesday:
As you know, Professor Tiffany Stern from Oxford University gave a talk on Wednesday afternoon about the play Der Bestrafte Brudermord (Fratricide Punished) a German adaptation of Hamlet from the 18th century. She discussed her journey into the world of early modern puppetry, noting that plays in Shakespeare’s day were often adapted into puppet shows. For example, Julius Caesar‘s stabbing scene could be turned into humorous, cartoon-like violence. Many of these shows were mishmashes of characters, plays, and settings.
Commedia dell’Arte thrived in England’s puppet performances. Due to the high level of improvisation, puppeteers had leeway to push the limits of censorship. We know that English theatre traveled abroad, and sometimes companies with dwindling numbers of employees conflated people and puppet shows or converted entirely to puppetry. Stern decided that, though she had known Fratricide Punished as a play for actors, evidence supports the possibility that it was also a puppet show. Its stage directions and cast, including extra violence and unnecessary characters, suggests puppet shenanigans.
Her talk was followed by a fantastic, high-octane, hilarious production of Der Bestrafte Brudermord by Hidden Room Theatre and a talk-back with its performers. They discussed how they composed the music, crafted the puppets, and collaborated on comedic bits and more emotional moments. Because it worked so well, director Beth Burns was quite convinced that the play was designed to be a puppet show.
After that, we walked across the street to The Windmill to catch up with attendees at the pub!
I’d also like to announce that last year’s BritGrad won the Second Annual Bardie Award for Best Conference of the Year. The Shakespeare Standard called it “a brilliant opportunity and friendly atmosphere for postgraduate and early career researchers to discuss Shakespeare and early modern theater.” Read more about the award here. Congratulations BritGrad 2014, and here’s to BritGrad 2015!
BritGrad technically starts on Thursday, June 4th, but, as our previous post demonstrated, we will still be around on Wednesday!
15.30-16.30- Pre-show talk by Oxford Professor Tiffany Stern
17.30-18.45- Performance of Der Bestrafte Brudermord (Fratricide Punished), a Hamlet puppet show
20.00- Join us at the Windmill, a pub just across the street from the Shakespeare Institute.
Also, please note that there might be a National Rail strike from 17.00 on Thursday, June 4th until 16.59 Friday, June 5th. Visit National Rail’s page on service alterations for more details.
If you are in Stratford-upon-Avon on Wednesday June 3rd, please join us at the Shakespeare Institute at 3:30 p.m. for a pre-show talk and at 5:30 to watch an English performance of Der Bestrafte Brudermord (Fratricide Punished), an early adaptation of Hamlet. This puppet show, presented by Hidden Room Theatre, runs just over an hour.
The company’s academic adviser Professor Tiffany Stern (Oxford University) will give the pre-show talk from 3:30-4:30 on how Shakespeare’s plays were adapted for puppet performance in Europe during the seventeenth century.
In 1710, this mysterious, thirteen-page, hilariously slapstick German Hamlet — its script partly derived from the first, ‘bad’ quarto — was found in the depths of a monastery. This play is one of the most vivid traces we have of the work of the English Players, companies who took English plays on tour around northern Europe in Shakespeare’s time.
In keeping with the marionette show traditions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Brudermord employs onstage narrators (Judd Farris and Jason Newman) who perform all voices, music, and sound effects for the puppet cast — beautiful Sicilian rod marionettes made by Los Angeles’ Mystery Bird Puppet Show, styled and costumed by Jennifer Davis. This Hamlet varies from its English predecessor by incorporating additional comic characters and scenes.
The Hidden Room is an internationally acclaimed theatre company from Austin, Texas, which specializes in linking the past and the future of performance through early modern classics, and technologically forward thinking new works. Brudermord won Best Production of a Comedy, Best Ensemble, and Best Director at the B. Iden Payne Awards.
Admission to the play is £5 at the door. Spaces are limited, and will be allocated on a first come basis, please therefore arrive in good time to avoid disappointment! No need to RSVP.
Watch the trailer here:
Yet another plenary appeared on television last week. Historian Michael Wood consulted Dr Erin Sullivan, a lecturer and fellow with the Shakespeare Institute, for her expertise on BBC Four’s documentary Shakespeare’s Mother: The Secret Life of a Tudor Woman. The program follows William Shakespeare’s mother Mary Arden through personal and financial loss during an era of religious upheaval and the rise of a new kind of middle class.
The program is available to watch on BBC iPlayer for three more weeks. Go to 32:13 to hear Dr Sullivan discuss how Mary Arden might have dealt with grief after the deaths of her oldest children. Also check out the episode to see shots of the lovely Stratford-upon-Avon, where the BritGrad Conference will be held.
Last month, we profiled BritGrad plenary Chris Laoutaris, a lecturer and fellow at the Shakespeare Institute. Last week, he appeared on BBC’s The One Show in a segment about Lady Elizabeth Russell, the subject of his book Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe. Gyles Brandreth interviewed Dr Laoutaris in Playhouse Yard, a location central to the struggle between the “bard and the battle-axe.”
Russell, a strict Puritan, raised a petition against building a theatre in the upscale neighborhood of Blackfriars, London. Early modern NIMBYs who signed the petition included Lord Hunston, William Shakespeare’s patron, and Richard Field, his former publisher and boyhood friend.
Russell succeeded in pushing Shakespeare across the river where he wrote plays for the world-renowned Globe, only to return to Blackfriars after her death. Laoutaris actually suggests Shakespeare’s grudging admiration for his nemesis is evidenced by his creation of the Countess of Rousillon in All’s Well That End’s Well.
This episode aired on 12 February. If still available, Laoutaris’s segment begins at 23:35.
Do you consider yourself a hero? Well, it doesn’t matter as long as you can write about them. Shakespeare Jahrbuch, the Yearbook of the German Shakespeare Society, is calling for papers on Heroes and Heroines. Send them your work by March 31.
The 2016 volume of Shakespeare Jahrbuch will be a special issue devoted to “Heroes and Heroines”.
The editorial board of Shakespeare Jahrbuch invites essays on the following topics:
- Shakespeare as a cultural/national hero
- Heroes and heroines in Shakespeare’s plays
- Heroism in Shakespeare’s plays
- Shakespearean anti-heroes
- Tragic and comic heroes/heroines
- Heroism and genre
- Shakespeare and the heroes of early modern England
- Shakespeare and (early modern, Romantic, Victorian, modern …) hero-worship
- Actors and actresses as heroes/heroines
- Heroes /heroines in Shakespeare adaptations
Papers to be published in the Shakespeare Jahrbuch should be formatted according to our style sheet.
Please send your manuscripts (of not more than 6,000 words) to the editor of the Shakespeare Jahrbuch, Prof. Dr. Sabine Schülting (email: sabine.schuelting(at)fu-berlin.de), by 31 March 2015.
Bring out your dead! On March 27, the University of York will celebrate Richard III’s reinternment with a workshop on… corpses. Submit your proposals for Over His Dead Body by January 5:
The legal battle between Leicester and York over the remains of Richard III
came to an end in May 2014 with a High Court ruling that the last
Plantagenet king is to be buried in Leicester Cathedral. This hard-fought,
sometimes acrimonious, dispute over bones found in a municipal car park
presented a fascinating spectacle; a modern, even postmodern, restaging of
the medieval myth of the king’s two bodies. The King is dead; long live
In this research workshop, York and Leicester put their differences aside –
or rather, bring them together in memory and celebration of the historical
figure who inspired one of Shakespeare’s most popular incarnations. To mark
the occasion of Richard’s reinterment on March 26, 2015, the Department of
English and Related Literature at York and the School of Modern Languages
at Leicester invite proposals for a research workshop that will explore the
significance of the Shakespearian dead body on page, stage and screen.
Participants will be invited to join the audience at a memorial lecture in
York Minster on March 26, followed by the research workshop at Kings Manor
– a seat of Tudor government in northern England – on Friday March 27.
Perhaps even more so than the ghost, the Shakespearian dead body raises
fundamental questions about space, place, and belonging and about the
powers that shape its medial and intermedial exhumations and reinterments.
We invite proposals for 15-minute presentations offering textual readings of
Shakespearian bodies, including but not only Richard, either in the
Shakespearian text, or in modern or contemporary production and
performance. Topics might include the following:
· ‘The body is with the king, but the king is not with the body’:
where do we find, or look for, the Shakespearian dead body?
·‘Look on her. Look, her lips’: the Shakespearian dead body as
‘sight’ or image; its embodiment in or by performance, and/or in other
·‘O gentlemen, see, see! Dead Henry’s wounds Ope their congealed
mouths and bleed afresh!’ What is at stake in the physical confrontation
of the dead with the living?
· What does the Shakespearian dead body lose, or gain, in translation or
·How have particular productions or performances used the Shakespearian
dead body to ask questions about the ‘world’ outside the play?
·What motivates contemporary artists, directors, translators and academics
to contribute to these re-incarnations?
·How is the Shakespearian dead body given value in non-cultural
institutions (the State, science, the press)?
Inter- or multi-disciplinary perspectives are welcome. Proposals featuring
abstracts of up to 250 words in English and a short biographical
description should be sent in word format (doc. or .docx) to both
organizers by January 5 2015.
Please put ‘Over His Dead Body proposal’ in the subject line of your
Nicole Fayard, University of Leicester: firstname.lastname@example.org
Erica Sheen, University of York: email@example.com
Location: King’s Manor, University of York
Greetings! While you’re eagerly awaiting BritGrad 2015, we will periodically alert you to relevant conferences and calls for papers. Let’s begin with The Halved Heart: Shakespeare & Friendship (with the looming submissions deadline of December 12):
For men and women in Shakespeare’s England, friendship was a relation that
spanned the exquisite virtue of amicitia perfecta and the everyday exchanges
of neighbourliness and commerce. A friend might be ‘another self’, but it was
essential to be wary of false friends or flatterers. The complex nature of early
modern friendship was a rich source of inspiration for early modern dramatists.
Globe Education at Shakespeare’s Globe is pleased to announce our spring
conference, The Halved Heart: Shakespeare and Friendship (Friday 17
– Sunday 19 April 2015), and we invite proposals for papers and panels.
Speakers may address the Renaissance fascination with the ethical demands
of idealised friendship, or the pragmatic reality of instrumental alliances,
as explored on stage. Papers might consider the theatre as a site of social
promiscuity, where spectators could be instructed in the arts (and hazards) of
friendship even as such relationships were enacted in the auditorium. Or they
might examine the overlap between friendship and eroticism, and the points of
conflict between friendship and other forms of social alliance such as marriage,
or the relationship between monarch and subject.
The conference will conclude on Sunday 19 April with a staged reading by a
company of Globe actors of The Faithful Friends (Anon., King’s Men, c.1614).
Proposals of no more than 300 words for papers (or panels of up to three
papers) may be submitted to Dr Will Tosh on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for submissions is Friday 12 December 2014.
The conference is for scholars and students but is open to all members of the
public who are interested in debates about early modern theatre and friendship.
When bookings open, visit the Globe’s website to purchase tickets. Who doesn’t want to learn about friendship? Just don’t go down the dark route taken by Valentine and Proteus in The Two Gentlemen of Verona.