NEW: The Shakespeare Magazine JOBS PAGE is a regularly-updated list of job vacancies (including auditions, academic roles and courses) connected to Shakespeare and related fields

Please mention Shakespeare Magazine when applying for jobs.

img_5966
OPPORTUNITIES BELOW POSTED 04 August 2017

LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust seeks a Learning Sales Administrator
CLOSING DATE: Not known
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust seeks a Group Sales Administrator
CLOSING DATE: 06 August 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust seeks an Operations and Marketing Administrator
CLOSING DATE: 06 August 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust seeks a Retail Sales Assistant
CLOSING DATE: 06 August 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Various, UK
OPPORTUNITY: 2018 auditions/backstage interviews for National Youth Theatre now open 
DETAILS: For ages 14-25
CLOSING DATE: Not known
Go here for more information and to apply.

JOBS or COURSES BELOW POSTED 07 July 2017

LOCATION: Bristol, UK
COURSE: One-week course on Acting in Shakespeare Plays
DETAILS: At Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, the course runs from Monday 24 July to Friday 28 July. Cost: £450
Go here for more information and to apply for a place on this course.

JOBS BELOW POSTED 02 July 2017

LOCATION: Terra Alta, West Virginia, USA
JOB: Writer/Scholar seeks experienced Editor for short (1-2 pages) Shakespeare articles for website, aimed at middle school students.
Prefer 20+ years experience teaching English Literature. International contributors are welcomed. Will be happy to discuss rates.
CLOSING DATE: This position is open until filled.
For more information and to apply for this job: Please contact Donald via email: donaldstump85@yahoo.com

LOCATION: London, UK
JOB: Bridge Theatre seeks an Assistant Director to work with Nicholas Hytner on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar
CLOSING DATE: 10 am Monday 3 July 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

JOBS BELOW POSTED 25 June 2017

LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust seeks an Assistant Retail Manager – Birthplace Gift and Book Shop
CLOSING DATE: 07 July 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust seeks a Retail and Reception Assistant
CLOSING DATE: 07 July 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust seeks Education Assistants – Make a Scene
CLOSING DATE: 02 July 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust seeks a Supporter Relations Officer
CLOSING DATE: 30 June 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust seeks a Development Coordinator
CLOSING DATE: 30 June 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust seeks a Catering and Hospitality Assistant
CLOSING DATE: 25 June 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust seeks a Catering Assistant
CLOSING DATE: 25 June 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

JOBS BELOW POSTED 20 June 2017

LOCATION: London, UK
JOB: Shakespeare’s Globe seeks a Building Operations Manager
CLOSING DATE: 5 July 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: London, UK
JOB: Shakespeare’s Globe seeks an Assistant Front of House Volunteer Manager
CLOSING DATE: 3 July 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: London, UK
JOB: Shakespeare’s Globe seeks a Globe Education Coordinator, Learning Projects
CLOSING DATE: 3 July 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Royal Shakespeare Company seeks a Head of Application Delivery
CLOSING DATE: 2 July 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: London, UK
JOB: Shakespeare’s Globe seeks a Globe education Coordinator, Higher Education
CLOSING DATE: 26 June 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: London, UK
JOB: Shakespeare’s Globe seeks a Theatre Assistant
CLOSING DATE: 25 June 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: London, UK
JOB: Shakespeare’s Globe seeks a Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Globe Education: Read Not Dead
CLOSING DATE: 21 June 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Royal Shakespeare Company seeks an Assistant to the Director of Commercial Services & Director of Sales and Marketing
CLOSING DATE: 21 June 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

JOBS BELOW POSTED 16 June 2017

LOCATION: Ashland, Oregon, USA
JOB: Oregon Shakespeare Festival seeks a Human Resources Director
CLOSING DATE: Not Known
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Ashland, Oregon, USA
JOB: Oregon Shakespeare Festival seeks a Concessions Lead
CLOSING DATE: Application deadline is 12 July 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: San Francisco, California, USA
JOB: San Francisco Shakespeare Festival seeks an Education Director
CLOSING DATE: This position will be filled as soon as possible, ideally by 5 July 2017
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Ashland, Oregon, USA
JOB: Oregon Shakespeare Festival seeks a Scenic Artist
CLOSING DATE: 18 June
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Ashland, Oregon, USA
JOB: Oregon Shakespeare Festival seeks a Wig and Hair Technician
CLOSING DATE: This position is open until filled.
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Ashland, Oregon, USA
JOB: Oregon Shakespeare Festival seeks a Wig Master
CLOSING DATE: This position is open until filled.
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

LOCATION: Ashland, Oregon, USA
JOB: Oregon Shakespeare Festival seeks a Company Manager
CLOSING DATE: This position is open until filled.
Go here for more information and to apply for this job.

You have reached the end of the Shakespeare Magazine Jobs Page.
Please mention Shakespeare Magazine when applying for jobs.

Paris-based journalist Carolina Rosendorn asked Shakespeare Magazine’s Editor Pat Reid three brief questions about tourism in the Bard’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon. His response was a 2,000-word sprawl of sightseeing tips – and unabashed Shakespearean fan worship.

Interview by Carolina Rosendorn        Photos by Emma Wheatley

Do you consider yourself a Shakespeare fan? Why? What do you love about his work? Please feel free to elaborate as much as you want.

PAT REID: “Yes, I do consider myself a Shakespeare fan. One of my reasons for launching Shakespeare Magazine was the recognition that Shakespeare does have fans in the modern sense of the word. Shakespeare – and his body of the work – has fans in the same way that a famous actor or band or football team has fans. You get this with lots of cultural figures from the past, but with Shakespeare the fan energy is equal to all of the others put together.”

“For a fan like me, Shakespeare is endlessly fascinating. Even if I was to focus solely on his life and works, that would keep me occupied forever. But Shakespeare touches on so many things – and so much Shakespeare-related activity has taken place in the centuries since his death – that I’d need multiple lifetimes and several additional brains to even begin to process it all.”

4 parade
“People often ask me if I ever run out of material for the magazine. The truth is that if I was able to cover all meaningful Shakespeare activity in the world, the magazine would be a thousand pages long – and I’d have to publish a new issue every day.”

“There is definitely a ‘trainspotting’ element to being a Shakespeare fan – being amused by gloriously tacky Shakespeare merchandise or delighted by a knowing reference to Hamlet in the Power Rangers TV show. But what I love about Shakespeare’s work is that it seems to touch on all the important questions of life, and seems to offer suggestions for how to get through it. Shakespeare’s plays are broadly divided into Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, and ultimately his works range from hilariously funny to educational to emotionally enriching. You can’t ask for much more from an artist.”

“Not forgetting Shakespeare’s Sonnets and long narrative poems, which are also all of those things. But to give one example of the power of Shakespeare I’ll choose Romeo and Juliet. It’s become quite fashionable to be dismissive of that play, but I remember standing reading it on a London tube station a few years ago, and I had tears running down my face because Shakespeare’s words were just so beautiful.”

8

Why do you think that people all over the world visit his birthplace at Stratford-upon-Avon?

“Whenever you have fandom you always find a kind of quasi-religious element, and Shakespeare has certainly spread around the globe like a religion. So it’s not unusual that people want to make pilgrimages to the shrine, as it were. But even without the Shakespeare connection, Stratford-upon-Avon would still be a lovely place (although perhaps it’s because of the Shakespeare connection that people have fought to preserve its essential loveliness).

“Personally, I love going there. It’s a beautiful and tranquil place. It has quite a magical feel, similar to other historic English towns like York, Bath and Oxford – and it has a certain mystical kinship with ancient sites like Glastonbury, Avebury and Stonehenge. I think a lot of people visit Stratford-upon-Avon because of Shakespeare, but end up falling in love with the place for its own qualities.”

“As a tourist destination, Stratford-upon-Avon seems to run like a well-oiled machine. It’s able to accommodate huge numbers of people without getting too uncomfortable, and thankfully I haven’t noticed the kind of environmental damage you might expect from so much human traffic.”

5 parade
“For a typical visit with my partner and child, we will drive the 75 miles from Bristol and park in the town centre. We’ll buy a ticket that allows us to visit the Birthplace and other related houses (usually the ticket allows return visits too). At the Birthplace, we’ll ask some of the actors to perform a speech or scene or sonnet for us, and one of the musicians does a splendid version of Titania’s Lullaby from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“Then we walk over to Holy Trinity Church to visit Shakespeare’s tomb and see the famous effigy. Next to the church is the Dell, a pleasant park by the river. In the summer they have open air performances by amateur companies. It’s free, and often highly entertaining. While waiting for the next show, we can hire a rowing boat and enjoy splashing around on the river. This is right next to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and it’s not unusual to see one of the star actors chatting to students on the lawn. Also nearby is The Dirty Duck (it’s a pun on ‘Black Swan’), a legendary pub where the actors go boozing after performances. On a sunny day, with ice-cream in hand, it’s all rather blissful.”

11 parade
“Stratford-upon-Avon is also an academic centre, with the Shakespeare Centre, the Shakespeare Institute and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s own avenues of research. Once I went to interview the venerable Professor Stanley Wells, who has since been knighted. Afterwards, he took me to the office next door to meet his colleague Paul Edmondson, so I was able to do an impromptu interview with him as well. There are several other Stratford-based academics I’m keen to interview, and the Shakespeare Institute certainly has the aura of being a wonderful place to study.”

“It’s impossible to walk around Stratford-upon-Avon without embarking upon some imaginative speculation about Shakespeare and his life-long relationship with the place. This is a creatively healthy and imaginatively rewarding pursuit, just as long as you don’t confuse your speculation with objective fact.”

“Shakespeare Magazine has readers all over the world, and this has certainly educated me in terms of how different nationalities relate to the English language and England itself. Often, countries that have serious political differences with the UK are home to particularly fervent Shakespeare fans. I’ve concluded that people have a powerful desire to find common ground, and Shakespeare can be an important conduit to that.”

image[1]
“And Shakespeare still has that mark of quality – people everywhere know that he’s supposed to be the best of the best, and so they want to find out more.”

“In this day and age, I have to say that I worry about Stratford-upon-Avon’s vulnerability to a terrorist attack. It would be a nihilistic, self-defeating gesture by the perpetrators, but it would be a tragedy for civilisation.”


Do you think that everyone who does is a true Shakespeare fan? Or is there some kind of myth around his figure that attracts tourists even if they are not familiar with his actual work? I have come across a fair amount of “Shakespeare lovers” who in fact haven’t really read his work – only seen movies like Shakespeare in Love and such…

“I think probably the vast majority of visitors are not true Shakespeare fans, but that’s fine. Most adult visitors have at least some level of genuine interest in Shakespeare, and visiting Stratford-upon-Avon can only increase that. When I went to Hong Kong and visited the ‘Big Buddha’ nobody berated me for not being a true Buddhist, and I still found it an amazing experience. Likewise, I’m delighted that people from China want to visit Shakespeare’s home, and I’m confident most will take away from it something that they find meaningful.”

“Yes, there is definitely a mythic element that attracts tourists even if they have little or no formal experience of Shakespeare. Especially in the English-speaking world, Shakespeare is so embedded in the culture that people often don’t realise they’re ‘speaking Shakespeare’. So Shakespeare’s Birthplace is also the point of origin for vast swathes of our cultural identity. Visitors recognise this and respond to it in different ways – from pleasant surprise to full-scale intellectual epiphany. And importantly, people always seem happy and excited to be there. Stratford-upon-Avon seems to have an inbuilt feelgood factor.”

Issue 6 Cover
“Expanding on the mythic idea of Shakespeare… there are, of course, many documented myths relating to Shakespeare and his works, and new ones keep emerging all the time. Part of Stratford-upon-Avon’s attraction is the way it feels like so much mythic energy is focussed in one relatively small and aesthetically-stimulating location.”

“Paul Edmondson says that every day he is irked to hear tourist guides in Stratford-upon-Avon perpetuating certain myths about Shakespeare. But ironically, Paul has himself been reinvestigating other Shakespeare myths, and asking if they might have a grain of substance.”

“Yes, I have also encountered self-proclaimed Shakespeare lovers who actually don’t know much about the subject. I try not to judge them too harshly. There’s an aspirational dimension to it, wishing to be seen as a culturally well-rounded person. I will admit that when I was younger I used to imply that I knew more about Shakespeare than I really did. I know a lot more about Shakespeare now, but I can cheerfully admit there’s a vast, yawning chasm of what I don’t know. For me, Shakespeare is a life-long learning project, and Shakespeare Magazine is a way to help myself and others with that.”

Shakespeare scan low res
“Shakespeare in Love is actually a great film for introducing people to Shakespeare, and it becomes more enjoyable as you gradually understand all the in-jokes and references.”

“One thing that really frustrates me is when people share dreadful fake Shakespeare quotes via social media. I wish we could shut down the stupid websites that originate these things, because it’s a form of cultural vandalism. Conversely, I love the meme of the actor Tom Hiddleston looking angry ‘because someone, somewhere is misquoting Shakespeare’.”


If there’s anything you want to add, please feel free to do so? Any insights you might have about Shakespeare as a tourist attraction would be interesting.

“Many of the big engine rooms of Shakespeare study and performance are now situated in North America. And I sometimes suspect that some of those guys are starting to believe that their take on Shakespeare is the real deal, and the version that belongs to England is somehow an inferior version. This is how you get ridiculous situations like a Shakespeare festival in Oregon spending millions of dollars on ‘modern-day translations of Shakespeare’, as if Shakespeare’s actual words constitute some kind of problem that needs to be fixed. I certainly appreciate that geographical distance can inspire valid perspectives on Shakespeare, but it’s insane to think that Stratford-upon-Avon and London can be written out of the equation.”

folio
“There are people in this world who deeply resent the UK because of its colonial legacy – and other, more recent, crimes – but they still love Shakespeare. So it’s strange to see Shakespeare himself apparently falling victim to a form of US cultural imperialism. I should add that, because Shakespeare Magazine has so many US readers and contributors, it’s arguably as much an American publication as it is a British one. The story of Shakespeare in America will never run out of steam, but it’s a story that begins in London and – crucially – Stratford-upon-Avon.”

“I would just like to add that, as tourist attractions go, Stratford-upon-Avon is a pretty great one. There’s loads to see and do, and it’s not too expensive if you plan wisely. There are plenty of London locations with compelling links to Shakespeare, but in Stratford-upon-Avon every inch of the place is connected to the man and his journey from cradle to grave. To stand on the same patch of turf as the greatest Englishman who ever lived is a powerful and precious privilege.”

Read the Shakespeare Magazine guide to Stratford-upon-Avon here.

Eminent Shakespeare scholar Professor Stanley Wells receives knighthood from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace

Stanley Wells Investiture
Picture credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Stanley Wells, Honorary President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, received his knighthood from HRH the Prince of Wales in an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Friday 18 November.

Professor Sir Stanley Wells CBE, to give him his full official title, was awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in recognition of his services to Shakespearean scholarship.

One of the world’s foremost Shakespeareans, Professor Wells’ distinguished career with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust spans over 40 years. From 1975 he was representative trustee of the University of Birmingham, and he was a Life Trustee and Chairman from 1991 to 2011.

He is also Emeritus Professor of Shakespeare Studies of the University of Birmingham, former Vice-Chairman and now Honorary Emeritus Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Trustee of the Rose theatre, and a member of the Council of Shakespeare’s Globe.

Still a prolific writer, speaker and broadcaster at the age of 86, Sir Stanley is General Editor of the Oxford and Penguin editions of Shakespeare. He has written and edited numerous books and other publications on Shakespeare’s life and works.

A leading voice of Shakespeare studies, he speaks at numerous conferences and other events, sharing his passion for Shakespeare all over the world.

Speaking about the award, Professor Wells says: “It was a truly special day and I was very honoured and proud to have received this award from Prince Charles. I feel most fortunate in having been able to spend so much of my life in the company of Shakespeare and of those who admire and enjoy his works.

“Throughout my career as teacher and scholar I have enjoyed and benefitted enormously from collaborating with fellow scholars from all over the world.”

Go here to read our 2015 interview with Stanley Wells.

The latest book from Stanley Wells: Shakespeare On Page And Stage.

Find out about the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Last year we caught up with actor and author Nick Asbury while he was co-starring in Shakespeare in Love: The Play. He entertained us with tales of his Macbeth-quoting father, what it means to commute between London and Stratford-upon-Avon, and tackling Shakespeare’s History Plays – not once, but twice!

As a resident of Stratford-Upon-Avon, how do you feel about Shakespeare’s houses and the tourist trail? Do you interact with it?
“If you go into the centre of town it’s inevitable, it’s all around you. My partner’s daughter goes to school near Anne Hathaway’s Cottage so it’s pretty unavoidable for us. The schools go and walk around Shakespeare’s Birthplace and I tell her how lucky she is to get to see all of this. She does appreciate it.
“Then, of course, inevitably you’re walking down Henley Street and there’s a thousand tourists in the way… But I’d rather live there and celebrate it than not.” 

7C_lPoPG
Do you have a favourite place in Stratford-Upon-Avon? Somewhere you’d like to sit and spend a Sunday, perhaps?
“The Welcombe Hills. It’s as big as Hampstead Heath, but sometimes you can go there and be the only person there. There’s the most stunning view across the Malverns in the West, the Feldon parkland to the East, and all the way over to the Cotswolds, and over the whole of Stratford. It’s an incredibly peaceful and beautiful place. Because I know that Shakespeare used to walk across there every day to his Grandparents in Snitterfield, there’s a link between history and now and the future. It all feels rather circular once you’re up there. It’s wonderful.”

Is that something that resonates with you on stage also? Do you ever think “I’m walking in the man’s footsteps” and reflect on that?
“I think any actor that has done a lot of Shakespeare feels that to some extent. There is no doubt that living in Stratford and coming to London to perform for a week then going home at the weekend is a rather extraordinary journey.
“I come from the middle of nowhere in Herefordshire. I’m a country boy who went to London when I was in my early twenties, and tried to make my way, then progressed to Stratford. Shakespeare was up and down like a whore’s drawers, by all accounts. It is a very particular place, Stratford. It’s on the cusp of North, South, East, and West. Between the Forest of Arden and the wheat fields of the south east of England – Shakespeare grew up straddling all of these things.”

Nick in the RSC’s Histories, 2006

Nick in the RSC’s Histories, 2006

There’s often a London versus Stratford divide. People debate which is the true spiritual home of Shakespeare and which is the lesser…
“Well, they both are! One informs the other, and in my opinion it’d be difficult for any artist, let alone a playwright, to not be informed by who they are and where they come from. Similarly, all the arguments about who wrote Shakespeare and so on are utter spurious bollocks – and you can quote me on that.”

How is the Shakespeare in Love show?
“It’s brilliant. It’s a really fun show to do. I’m playing the baddie Colin Firth part, so I get to literally twiddle my moustache. It’s just great fun! What it does do is take these wonderful verses from Romeo and Juliet and add something that makes it clear. You have people in the audience who hear these great tracts and go ‘Oh yes! Now I understand it!’ And that is a wonderful introduction to Shakespeare. It may be a flight of fancy, but it’s a wonderful tool.”

The RSC’s Courtyard Theatre – Nick appeared in both its first and its last performance. Pic by Nic Asbury

The RSC’s Courtyard Theatre – Nick appeared in both its first and its last performance. Pic by Nic Asbury

Do you have a favourite Shakespeare film?
“Blimey. I’ve never even thought about it! I saw Roman Polanski’s Macbeth at school and was very marked by it.”

Do you recall your first Shakespeare experience?
“My father used to just quote Shakespeare all the time, then after a while I realised that it was only ever Macbeth. He’d been in it six times – he was a rather noted Lady Macbeth at school, I think. So he’d say ‘Oh, what’s that line?’ and we’d say ‘Well, it must be Macbeth’ and he’d say ‘Well, how do you know!’. Bless him.
“I did see a wonderful production of Macbeth, I’ve no idea who it was by, in the old Nell Gwynne theatre in Hereford. Not much came to Hereford in the ’70s. It must have been a kid’s production. They did Macbeth with four actors and I remember being completely mesmerised. We were about 50 miles from Stratford so we used to go on school trips and stuff. I saw Johnathan Pryce doing his Macbeth there – it all revolves around Macbeth, doesn’t it? I saw loads of productions there – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Winter’s Tale, all that sort of stuff, in the early-to-mid-’80s.”

9781840028928_1-1
And you ended up becoming a Shakespearean actor yourself.
“I joined the RSC and did Michael Boyd’s original productions of Henry VI Parts 1, 2, and 3 and Richard III, and then repeated them all again in 2006 and 2008. I actually think Henry VI Part 2 is now my favourite play, which sounds a bit wilfully different but it’s just because I’ve done it so much. I play the Duke of Somerset and in that particular play I think he’s got about ten lines, but he’s on all the time. It is a wonderful piece of theatre. Shakespeare never writes a line for someone that isn’t needed, so in my view there has to be a reason why that person’s onstage. There should never be any spear carriers in Shakespeare. There always has to be a reason for that person to be on stage, so the stakes are withdrawn if you have a spear carrier, because what are they doing there? Everyone has to have a purpose.”

When you look back at that extraordinary journey with the History Cycle, is there a moment that you remember particularly clearly?
“There are hundreds. In the Histories company of 2006-8 we lost three fathers. A baby was conceived, born, and a year later got up and said some words on the stage – in the same job! When she did that we realised the length and importance of a job like that. We had shared so much together. Birth, marriages, death.”

9781849432412_1
These people must be like family to you?
“Oh yeah, they are. It’s unlike any other job, and when we see each other we just click straight back in. It’s wonderful.”

If in ten years time they said ‘Let’s do it again’, what would you say?
“Yeah. I don’t think I’d have a choice. You can never recreate the past, but you can ignite the present. We did the original Henry VIs, then took what we had and made it, hopefully, better when we did it again. If we kept that spirit maybe we could do it again!”

Midsummer Night's Dream on Meon Hill, Warwickshire – Pic by Nick Asbury

Midsummer Night’s Dream on Meon Hill, Warwickshire – Pic by Nick Asbury

Is there a character in Shakespeare that you haven’t had a chance to do but you’d love to play?
“Macbeth I haven’t played. I’d love to. I’d love to do Coriolanus as well. I’d like to do something funny. I’d like to play Benedick. I’ve played Jacques and that was wonderful because Jacques is described as being melancholic – a misery guts – so in my mind it’s fairly boring if you turn up on stage being melancholic and a misery guts. You play it light, funny. It’s much more interesting to see someone hiding depression, which a lot of comics do, of course. They hide behind the funny, then you see a glimpse of darkness every now and again, at the end of the ‘Seven Ages of Man’ speech or whatever. I loved playing Jacques purely because of that.”

A big part of the RSC is bringing Shakespeare to new generations and young minds. Is that something you’re passionate about?
“Shakespeare can be incredibly accessible if it’s done in the right way. It doesn’t matter whether the audience is adults or children. Kids, when they listen to adults talking, will siphon out what they don’t understand. They take it for granted that they won’t understand everything, so they just take what they can get from it. As a consequence they’re there in the moment and really enjoying it.”

Nick’s book “White Hart, Red Lion: The England of Shakespeare’s Histories”

Nick’s book “White Hart, Red Lion: The England of Shakespeare’s Histories”

Are you working on another book?
“Yes! It’s a novel about a bloke in 1561, a historical novel based on the research I did for White Hart, Red Lion. Which was three years worth of research and I did another year’s worth of research slightly later on, and on the civil war. I’m about a third of the way through it. It’s been slightly put on hold by doing Shakespeare in Love. I thought I was going to be able to write during the day and perform in the evening, but it’s virtually impossible. Having two different head spaces is hard. I cannot wait to get back into the book.”

Finally, how would your sum up Stratford-Upon-Avon to somebody who’s never been there?
“It’s not just pretty, it’s a living place too. It’s not just the theatre, not just Ye Olde Stratforde, there is a life and a breadth to it too. It’s a rather wonderful English town in the sense that it’s cosmopolitan, it looks outwards.”

For further reading, check out these Shakespeare books by Nick Asbury:

Exit Pursued by a Badger: An Actor’s Journey through History with Shakespeare

White Hart, Red Lion: The England of Shakespeare’s Histories

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Gregory Doran completes his ambitious ‘King and Country’ tetralogy with rising star Alex Hassell in the title role of Henry V

[Images by Keith Pattison for the RSC]

Henry V_c_ RSC_RsC.HenryV.4110
With the 600th anniversary of Agincourt on 25 October, Doran’s production of Henry V at Stratford-upon-Avon’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre is a standout tribute to both Shakespeare and the battle that helped define British history.

Returning to the role he so effortlessly made his own (opposite Antony Sher’s Falstaff) in Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, Alex Hassell is undoubtedly the star of the show.

Henry V_c_ RSC_RsC.HenryV.2880
By the time he’s reciting the legendary St Crispin’s Day speech, Hassell deploys Shakespeare’s words so powerfully that the audience is ready to leap up and follow him into battle.

Hassell also brings some comedy to role of the English king who has left his notoriously misspent youth behind him.

Henry V_c_ RSC_RsC.HenryV.4263
A particular highlight is the meeting of Henry and the French princess, Katherine, played by Jennifer Kirby. Hassell plays the scene as a Hugh Grant-type character as he petitions his prospective wife to love him whilst overcoming a language barrier.

Alex Hassell is definitely an actor to keep a close eye on as he progresses through his Shakespearean career.

Henry V_c_ RSC_RsC.HenryV.3427
Other performances that stand out include Oliver Ford Davies as the cardigan-wearing Chorus, Antony Byrne as the fiery Pistol and Jane Lapotaire as Queen Isobel.

Despite Lapotaire only appearing in Act V, her presence is spellbinding and it’s a pleasure to witness her commanding the stage.

Henry V_c_ RSC_RsC.HenryV.2760_1
The entire production was captivating from start to finish, and certainly a strong ending to the RSC’s run of history plays over the last couple of years.

Henry V will transfer to London’s Barbican Theatre in November before moving the New York in April 2016.

Henry V_c_ RSC_RsC.HenryV.3516
Go here to book tickets for Henry V at the Barbican.

Actor Danny Steele achieves his ambition to play Shakespeare’s Richard III on the hallowed turf of Stratford-upon-Avon – with just three days of rehearsal!

Earlier this summer, I played the Duke of Gloucester – and King Richard – in the Oxford Shakespeare Company’s Richard III. Excitingly, the production was staged in the Dell Gardens, close to the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

We performed twice in one day at and then, a few days later, in Bosworth Field. But what made this performance unique – and really tested us all as performers – was that the company had got together to fully rehearse and bond just three days earlier.

Queen Anne (Emma Fitchett) gets chatted up by the Duke of Gloucester (Danny Steele)

Queen Anne (Emma Fitchett) gets chatted up by the Duke of Gloucester (Danny Steele)

Yes, you read that right. Three days earlier. When I told fellow teachers and actors about the schedule their responses ranged from puzzlement to outright disbelief. And it was pretty unbelievable. No, there was none of the luxury afforded to the RSC with their six month rehearsal period.

Performing Shakespeare is already difficult enough, but this new dimension certainly added an extra level of frisson to the performances – and gave me, as the lead, sleepless nights.

The two murderers (Mia Norton, Matthew Domenico) joke about Clarence’s death

The two murderers (Mia Norton, Matthew Domenico) joke about Clarence’s death

The Oxford Shakespeare Company is owned and run by Ron Song Destro, an American Director and Shakespeare Scholar. Half the cast were from the US and came over the week before. We all met at the start of the week in London before leaving for Stratford-upon-Avon.

The audiences were great, and we were able to ‘mingle’ with them in each two-hour performance. Especially Queen Margaret, as played by Rachele Fregonese, who sat next to audiences on the bench and the lawn as she delivered some of her lines.

The murdered twins visit King Richard (Danny Steele) and Richmond (Andrew James Gordon) while they sleep

The murdered twins visit King Richard (Danny Steele) and Richmond (Andrew James Gordon) while they sleep

As part of the schedule, we had the opportunity to work with the RSC’s celebrated voice director Cicely Berry, as well as receiving direction from theatre veteran Malcolm Mckay.

Two days before the show I had an attack of the ‘actor’s fear’. I felt nauseous, couldn’t eat and didn’t sleep. During the shows, however, all those worries fell away and although some lines were missed, the objectives stayed.

The Group ensemble at the RSC with renowned voice coach Cicely Berry

The Group ensemble at the RSC with renowned voice coach Cicely Berry

Would I put myself through it again? Hell, yes! Ron’s work has inspired me to stage another production of Richard III. This one will be set in the 1990s, and will be staged in London in early 2016. Watch this space!

To find out more about Ron Song Destro’s Oxford Shakespeare Company, go here.

“Titus Andronicus probably wouldn’t be the best starting point…” Teacher and Hour-Long Shakespeare author Matthew Jenkinson offers his tips on approaching Shakespeare with young people

“All’s Well That Ends Well is funny – if you’re fluent in Shakespearean English!” protested one GCSE English pupil to me recently. It is not an uncommon complaint, along with assertions that Shakespeare’s plays are too complicated or difficult for many school children. Well, quite rightly Shakespeare is not going to go away; quite the opposite, as the new National Curriculum puts even greater emphasis on his works.

So how can parents or teachers aid in the understanding of Shakespeare among their pupils or children? The most empowering thing you can say, at first, is “Do not worry about understanding all (or any) of the words”. It is amazing how quickly a pupil’s brain can shut down because they are panicking about ‘getting’ everything the first time around. Understanding comes with time, re-reading, and patient explanation.

CS9B6725
It is also enhanced by watching Shakespeare on the stage. But parents and teachers need to be judicious about this. Watching a poor stage production will have pupils running a mile in the opposite direction, and they certainly won’t feel inclined to explore the text in any greater depth. Watching a great stage production can have the opposite effect.

There is no need to traipse long distances to Stratford or London these days either. The Globe Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company, respectively, have released some excellent DVDs of their recent stage productions. So you can now break up three-hour-long productions in the classroom or at home, pausing to discuss what is happening or to go to the loo.

Attending a live production can be exhilarating, but I would wait until the children have gained some traction. Making them stand in the rain at The Globe for three hours, as a first experience of Shakespeare, probably won’t have them begging for more.

CS9B7508
Watching a live performance enables pupils to work out plots by seeing the interaction between characters and hearing the tone employed by expert actors. I have used Roger Allam’s Falstaff scenes, performed at The Globe in 2010, to convey to pupils what happens in Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2. I have been amazed at how much laughter has come from individuals who just would not have understood the text if we had merely read it from the page.

The other way to get children engaged with Shakespeare is to get them on their feet, acting out parts. Again, a sensitive and judicious approach is necessary here. First of all, the choice of play is vital. Titus Andronicus probably wouldn’t be the best starting point. Parents and teachers also need to be understanding of the fact that many pupils, especially as they stumble through adolescence, will be quite reticent about standing up and delivering elaborate metaphors.

CS9B6704
There are two powerful ways to counter this. The first is to create a culture in school and at home where drama is an everyday feature – it is not nerdy or distant. The second – obviously – is to ‘differentiate’ the casting, ensuring that the allocation of parts reflects the confidence and ability of the pupils. Giving a reticent child the part of Macbeth will put them off Shakespeare for life, as will giving a confident actor the part of First Servingman. One of the joys of Shakespeare’s history plays, in particular, is the number of roles available, with differing levels of intensity; every pupil can find their niche.

There are very few schools out there that will be able to stage a full three-hour Shakespeare play, which is why I have been editing a new series of abridged versions in the Hour-Long Shakespeare series. As the title suggests, each play lasts about an hour when performed, with central characters and the overall narrative arcs preserved. This is by no means a novel project – the plays have been abridged since Shakespeare’s day, as evidenced by the discovery in 2014 of a First Folio in St Omer, France, in which Jesuits made cuts to suit their pupils.

CS9B7559
What is new about the Hour-Long series, aside from some original scene shifting (don’t use these texts in exams!), is the use of a Chorus in all of the plays. Shakespeare himself famously used a Chorus in Henry V, for example, but adopting this device in other plays enables any number of pupils to get involved as narrators, offering summaries of excised sections of plot, or acting as Roman citizens in Julius Caesar, the tyrant’s conscience in Richard III, or the witches in Macbeth – all with the text still in front of them.

Removing the pressures of learning vast amounts of lines, or spending too long on the stage, enables usually reticent pupils to engage with Shakespeare in performance. Maintaining juicy title roles with headline speeches attracts those keen actors who are ready for something more challenging. In sum, Shakespeare hopefully becomes more manageable for those who would normally be scared off.

Matthew Jenkinson is director of studies at New College School in Oxford. Hour-Long Shakespeare: Henry IV (Part 1), Henry V and Richard III is available now, priced £10. Hour-Long Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Julius Cesar will be published in September.

Shakespeare Magazine witnessed the 2015 Shakespeare Birthday Parade held on 25 April in the Bard’s Stratford-upon-Avon birthplace

1

The Air Training Corps Band led the parade through the streets of Stratford. The route was extended this year to incorporate Shakespeare’s birthplace on Henley Street – taking the parade from cradle to grave.

2
A staple part of the celebrations is the town’s William Shakespeare and his wife at the front of the walking parade.

3
The big birthday cake this year was themed around the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, a battle which features in Shakespeare’s Henry V. The cake was decorated by local school children and artists.

4
Gregory Doran, Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, taking part in the walking parade to leave flowers at Shakespeare’s grave in Holy Trinity Church.

5
The annual handing over of the quill between Shakespeare and the head boy of King Edward’s School, which Shakespeare attended as a boy. This recent tradition was added to the parade at the suggestion of Gregory Doran, who felt it would symbolise that Shakespeare’s writing lives on.

6
The unfurling of the flags saw 451 gold and black balloons being released. Each balloon represented a year since Shakespeare’s birth.

7
There was plenty of entertainment around Stratford. At the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Keith Osborn read sonnets at the top of the viewing tower. We were treated to ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’.

8
The view from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre tower, looking towards Holy Trinity Church.

9
There was street entertainment on every road. This was the Shakespeare Morris Dancers outside the town hall.

10
Holy Trinity Church: Shakespeare’s grave and monument beautifully adorned by all the floral tributes that were left from visitors around the world.

Final Reminder! Today, Eminent Shakespeareans Sir Antony Sher and Professor Stanley Wells feature in National Theatre Platforms

Today, Wednesday 6 May, sees two Shakespeare-themed events in London from National Theatre Platforms.

Antony Sher
Dorfman Theatre, Wednesday 6 May, 2.30pm (1 hour) + Book Signing, £4/£3
The distinguished Shakespearean actor talks to Sue MacGregor about Year of the Fat Knight, his warm, witty and entertaining book about his experience of playing Falstaff.

Book tickets for Sir Antony Sher here.

Antony Sher as Falstaff by Kwame Lestrade

Stanley Wells
Dorfman Theatre, Wednesday 6 May, 6pm (45 minutes) + Book Signing, £4/£3
Stanley Wells offers a wonderfully readable actor-centred history of theatrical performance in Great Shakespeare Actors, examining their most notable performances in the key roles. Chaired by Sue MacGregor.

Book tickets for Professor Stanley Wells here
.

Stanley Wells by Christoph Mueller

An eclectic programme of talks, discussions and interviews, National Theatre Platforms offer the chance to learn more about the National’s work and the arts in general.

Both Sir Antony Sher and Professor Stanley Wells have been interviewed for the next issue of Shakespeare Magazine, coming soon.

Actor and director Sir Kenneth Branagh receives prestigious Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award in Stratford-upon-Avon

Shakespeare superstar Kenneth Branagh.

Shakespeare superstar Kenneth Branagh.

Sir Kenneth Branagh has received the 2015 Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award.

The distinguished Shakespearean actor/director and award-winning international film star was chosen to receive the award by representatives of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Institute chose.
The award was presented on Saturday 25 April at the Shakespeare Birthday Luncheon held at the Theatre Gardens in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Sponsored by Stratford-based jewellers George Pragnell Limited, the award is given annually “for outstanding achievement in extending the appreciation and enjoyment of the works of William Shakespeare or in the general advancement of Shakespearean knowledge and understanding”.
Last year’s award was presented to Sir Nicholas Hytner. Other acclaimed recipients include Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Peter Hall, Dame Judi Dench and Dame Harriet Walter.

Belfast-born Branagh joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1984, where he received acclaim for his performances in Hamlet and Henry V. His most recent Shakespeare production, Macbeth (Manchester International Festival and the Armory, New York), marked his 25th Shakespeare production.

Five-times Oscar nominated Branagh has directed and starred in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays, including Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Hamlet, Love Labour’s Lost and As You Like It.

He has recently announced the launch of his own Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company which will stage Shakespeare plays The Winter’s Tale and Romeo and Juliet.

Sir Ken said: “I am honoured to be this year’s recipient of the distinguished Pragnell Shakespeare award. To be in the company of such illustrious predecessors is both touching and meaningful. I look forward very much to returning to Stratford, a town I love, and of course, to a delightful lunch to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday!”

Shakespeare Magazine's Emma Wheatley with Sir Kenneth Branagh in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Shakespeare Magazine’s Emma Wheatley with Sir Kenneth Branagh in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Professor Stanley Wells, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Honorary President said: “Kenneth Branagh is more than worthy of this prestigious award, both as a great actor and director of Shakespeare on stage and as an innovative, prolific and highly successful director and actor in films of Shakespeare that have brought his plays to global audiences who would never otherwise have been able to enjoy them.”

The President and Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon was distinguished historian Michael Wood, while the toast to the Immortal Memory of William Shakespeare was delivered by writer and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth.