An American magazine has published an article titled ‘Was Shakespeare a Woman?’ In response, we have written an article titled ‘SHAKESPEARE DERANGEMENT SYNDROME’

The Atlantic, a US magazine founded in 1857, has published an article by Elizabeth Winkler titled ‘Was Shakespeare a Woman?’. The answer of course is no, but while it’s deplorable that The Atlantic would do this, it’s not actually surprising. Elements of the US cultural elite, just like their counterparts here in the UK, have a long and inglorious history of Shakespeare denialism.

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To cite just one example, no less an institution than the Smithsonian has had a particularly egregious advocacy of ‘Oxfordian theory’ on its website for as long as I can remember. So I’ve come to realise that rich, clever and sophisticated people are often complete and utter fruitcakes, and our American cousins are not exempt from this.

The Atlantic itself has published this type of thing before during its lengthy lifespan, and Winkler merely takes all the arguments routinely deployed by anti-Stratfordians over the past century and adds a feminist twist. Who knows, maybe she got the idea from the cinematic font of wisdom that was St Trinians 2.

However, I do think the Winkler article is also symptomatic of what’s happening in the culture at large. Because we should have evolved to the point where an article like this could no longer be published, except in the crankier recesses of internet obscurity. But we are living at a time when the media, the political class and the universities have veered so far off course that they are in danger of losing all credibility with much of the public. I think of it as The Great Derangement, and Shakespeare Derangement Sydrome is just one facet of the overall malaise.

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Apart from its modish feminist gloss, the Winkler article reads like every other anti-Stratfordian screed I’ve ever trawled through. It’s quite old-fashioned. I say this without malice, as I’m quite old-fashioned too, but apart from a sprinkling of contemporary references, it feels like it’s coming from the 1960s or ’70s. It’s ironic indeed that for a woman who claims Shakespeare was a woman, Winkler herself writes like an old bloke.

Anyway, Winkler’s candidate for the authorship is Emilia Bassano. She’s been known by a number of names and a variety of spellings, so for clarity I will stick to this version of her married name: Emilia Lanier.

Reading the Winkler article, which is pretty long, I groan inwardly when she goes to meet Emilia’s “most ardent champion”, a geezer named John Hudson, who published a headache-inducing book on the subject in 2014. Winkler says “His zeal can sometimes get the better of him”, and she is not wrong.

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In fact, Hudson is a textbook Shakespeare Conspiracy Theorist. The formula is always the same:

1. “There is a secret message in the works of Shakespeare revealing the true author!”

2. “I alone have cracked the code!” (“Because I am so much cleverer than everyone else…”)

3. “Here it is! Is it not amazing?”

4. “What? You don’t believe me? What manner of imbecile are you!”

The article continues with Hudson and Winkler parsing Shakespeare’s works for evidence of Emilia’s hand. The thing is, if you pick any person who was writing during Shakespeare’s lifetime (and quite a few who weren’t) you could similarly identify any number of references that made them the author. It’s an easy game to play once you get in the swing of it. Indeed, I’m surprised no one has thus far identified Pocahontas as the author of Shakespeare’s works. Watch this space.

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Emilia’s advocates also believe she was Jewish and dark-skinned, so Winkler invokes Maya Angelou, deliberately misunderstanding the late author’s famous line to the effect that “Shakespeare must be a black girl”. [Read an excellent article on Maya Angelou’s love of Shakespeare here]

Finally, Winkler gets round to discussing Emilia’s own poetry. “Her writing style bears no obvious resemblance to Shakespeare’s” she concludes. Well, no.

With grinding inevitability, Winkler proceeds to her final destination, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. I know it seems a bit like saying Buckingham Palace is a hotbed of anti-monarchism, but Shakespeare’s Globe has long been strangely ambivalent (at best) about the man from Stratford-upon-Avon whose name it trades under. In his 2007 book on Shakespeare, Bill Bryson describes the Globe under former Artistic Director Mark Rylance as “a kind of clearinghouse for anti-Stratford sentiment”.

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At the Globe, Winkler attends the annual meeting of the Shakespeare Authorship Trust, which I imagine as being like a scene from Eyes Wide Shut. With Rylance as its figurehead, the Trust has considered the merits of dozens of authorship candidates over the years, before settling on… all of them! No, wait. The last time I checked, they were fighting an “Anyone But Shakespeare” campaign. In recent months they seem to have opted for an “Authorship By Secret Committee” theory, and have even given our mate William a seat at the table. How kind.

The Globe’s latest Artistic Director is Michelle Terry, and one of the first things she did was to commission a new play, Emilia, which features Shakespeare plagiarising from the titular heroine. There is no historical evidence for this, naturally, but it also occurs in Sally O’Reilly’s 2014 novel Dark Aemilia. Contemporary writers seem to love the idea of Shakespeare being a fraud. Presumably it eases the pain of knowing that the only reason anyone will remember them is as a footnote to Shakespeare.

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Incidentally, I get the impression that these are troubled times for The Globe. It’s just announced a two-year delay to its ambitious ‘Project Prospero’ expansion scheme, and its current production of Henry IV Part 2 has reportedly been playing to half-empty houses.

Michelle Terry has previously stated that her tenure at the Globe has “a socialist agenda”. Hopefully she’s not using Venezuela as her model.

But back to Elizabeth Winkler and her article in The Atlantic. ‘Was Shakespeare a Woman?’ has already found an audience. The publication has quite a big following and dodgy Shakespeare clickbait has long been a reliable attention-grabber for a media that is running dangerously low on both ideas and integrity.

But at least some of The Atlantic’s readers will be thinking: “If they can be this wrong about Shakespeare, what else are they wrong about?” before arriving at the sobering conclusion: possibly everything.

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In the article itself, Winkler dreams of her revelations dealing “a blow to the cultural patriarchy” so that women could “at last claim their rightful authority as historical and intellectual forces…”

It’s heady stuff, and any push-back by rational people will no doubt be decried as abuse, harassment, bullying and, wait for it, hate speech.

Because, while the leading fruitcakes of the Great Derangement are constantly telling us we’re living in the 1930s, we’re really not. We’re actually living in 4BC, with dozens of fervid religious cults all vying for supremacy. What this is really about is not that Shakespeare was a woman – he wasn’t. But it is necessary for the purposes of the cult that its adherents accept and proclaim that Shakespeare was a woman. Cults always demand that their followers believe the unbelievable, it is a means of uniting them against the world they wish to ultimately conquer.

We live in an age of identity politics, and almost every identity group I can think of comes with its own pet Shakespeare authorship theory and preferred candidate. So it is highly likely that the hacks at The Atlantic will be walking this path again.

To quote from the man himself, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

Shakespeare Magazine is an independent online publication for everyone who loves Shakespeare. Read our latest issue completely FREE here.

Buy Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro.

The Oxfraud website for in-depth debunking of anti-Stratfordian thought.

Book tickets for Henry IV Part 2 at Shakespeare’s Globe.

Just in time for Christmas, the exciting new online subscription platform from Digital Theatre features plenty of top-notch Shakespeare productions – and we are offering one lucky Shakespeare Magazine reader a month’s free subscription!

Good news for Shakespeare lovers who aren’t always able to get to the most prestigious productions in London and Stratford-upon-Avon. Digital Theatre (DT) has announced the launch of an online subscription platform to bring the best of live theatre, ballet, opera and classical concerts, to our own screens. Performances can be streamed anytime, anywhere, to any device – and the service is available now.

The Tempest 2 - production images Topher McGrillis © Royal Shakespeare Company
Subscribers will have access to over 65 productions, the majority of which are exclusive to DT, including: Simon Russell Beale in The Tempest, Paapa Essiedu in Hamlet, and Antony Sher in King Lear, all from the Royal Shakespeare Company; Zoë Wanamaker and David Suchet in All My Sons; Richard Armitage in The Crucible; David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing; operas and ballets from the Royal Opera House and the English National Ballet; and concerts conducted by Sir Simon Rattle and starring the London Symphony Orchestra.

Richard II 1 - production images Kwame Lestrade © Royal Shakespeare Compan
“Britain’s performing arts are world-renowned for their outstanding breadth, quality and diversity,” says DT’s founder, the director and producer Robert Delamere. “This was the inspiration behind the launch of the world’s first online performing arts platform. Digital Theatre collaborates with world-class producing houses to capture and curate their shows and stream them to the consumer in broadcast quality. Up close and personal, for a best-seat-in-the-house viewing experience.”

For £9.99 per month, subscribers get unlimited access to all Digital Theatre’s current and future productions. For non-subscribers, each production is available to rent online for 48 hours, at a price of £7.99.

Henry V 1 - production images Keith Pattison © Royal Shakespeare Company
“Our mission is to make the performing arts accessible to all,” says Justin Cooke, Chairman of Digital Theatre, “irrespective of social, economic or geographic circumstances. The power of digital is providing people, who might not otherwise have the opportunity, with access to fantastic performances, at a fraction of the cost of a typical ticket. We’re broadening access to these phenomenal productions, and preserving their impact for years to come. We aim to bring the drama and emotion of each live performance to the comfort of your home. And for me, this isn’t a replacement for live theatre – it’s a new art form altogether.”

DT will continue to add high-profile shows to its platform, including six new DT captures (two of which are in post-production), and a further 50+ curated productions from some of the world’s leading producers, all scheduled for release over the next six months.

Henry IV Part 1 - production images Kwame Lestrade © Royal Shakespeare Company
Digital Theatre also has an educational arm called Digital Theatre+ which provides more than 1,150 schools, colleges and universities, and three million students, in 65 countries, with access to 795 hours of curriculum-linked, audio-visual content, and 8,150 pages of bespoke written resources. Digital Theatre+ was the recent winner of the Best Online/Live Streaming Platform Award at the Theatre and Technology Awards 2017.

Go here to sign up to Digital Theatre now.

COMPETITION TIME!

For a chance of winning one month’s free subscription to Digital Theatre, simply send us an email at shakespearemag@outlook.com and answer this question:

Who is on the cover of the latest issue of Shakespeare Magazine?

(In case you need some help, go here for a clue)

This competition is open to all our readers, everywhere in the world. The closing date is Friday 22 December 2017, and a winner will be picked after that date.

King Lear - production images © Royal Shakespeare Company
All the current Shakespeare productions available on Digital Theatre:

As You Like It (both The Courtyard Theatre & Shakespeare’s Globe productions)
Berlioz: Roméo et Juliette
Comedy of Errors
Hamlet (Maxine Peake)
King Lear
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Lovesong
Macbeth
Much Ado About Nothing
Romeo and Juliet

From 11 December, the following productions from the Royal Shakespeare Company will be added to DT:

Cymbeline
King Lear
Hamlet
Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 2
Henry V
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Love’s Labour’s Won
Merchant of Venice
Othello
Richard II
Tempest
Two Gentlemen of Verona

“Shakespeare loves women of colour…” We find out what Dr Farah Karim-Cooper of Shakespeare’s Globe has been working on – and learn about Shakespeare’s “alternative discourse of beauty”

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Photos by Bronwen Sharp

Which play or area of Shakespeare are you working on right now – and what are you getting from it?
I’m editing a book called Titus Andronicus: The State of Play, published by Arden – it’s a collection of essays examining what scholars are saying in 2017 about this important play. I have also just started researching a book about Shakespeare, Death and Spectatorship. I have not got an angle other than my interest in what happens to and within the spectator when they see someone die/killed. Either on stage or in reality.”

What have you learned about Shakespeare that would have surprised your younger self?
I have learned that he loves women of colour… which appeals to a Pakistani-American lady like myself! His dark lady sonnets (I’m oversimplifying) reveal an excitement at alternative beauty, the arguments for darker beauty in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Love’s Labour’s Lost suggest that he was engaging in what the terrific scholar Kim F. Hall has described as an alternative discourse of beauty – beauty that is brown, black or just not white. P.S. read Hall’s classic Things Of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern England.”

Which Shakespeare character most resembles you?
Um… see my answer to Question 2! But seriously, I am not sure. I think I have a lot of Shrew‘s Katherina in me – feisty and with very high standards!”

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If I ask you to give me a Shakespeare quotation, which is the first one that comes to mind?
‘Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.’ – King Lear.”

What’s your favourite Shakespeare-related fact, myth, story or anecdote?
I think my favourite Shakespeare-related fact/anecdote/myth is the one about the dismantling of The Theatre in order to move the timbers across the river and build the Globe. There’s a lot of myth surrounding that story, which makes little sense given there is a great deal of surviving record about it, but I like how the story has been compressed from a couple of major events – i.e. dismantling one playhouse and building another more glorious – taking place over months to something that happened overnight.

“I love the idea of this fantasy – that one morning, the Globe magically appeared on Bankside and that Shakespeare might have played a part in this. It is a wonderful story, as myth-laden as it is. I think an excellent research project would be to build an oak-framed theatre and see how long it takes to dismantle it! I know Peter McCurdy (of McCurdy & Co who built the Globe and Sam Wanamaker Playhouse) would like to try this!”

You have the power to cast anyone in the world (actor or otherwise) to play any Shakespearean character. Who do you choose – and which role do they play?
I want to see Adrian Lester play Hamlet. He’s one of my favourite Shakespearean actors and Hamlet is my favourite role. It would be unbelievable.”

Dr Farah Karim-Cooper is Head of Higher Education and Research, Globe Education.
Read our interview with Farah in Shakespeare Magazine 10

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.

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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
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LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust seeks an Operations and Marketing Administrator
CLOSING DATE: 06 August 2017
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LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust seeks a Retail Sales Assistant
CLOSING DATE: 06 August 2017
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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
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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
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LOCATION: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
JOB: The Royal Shakespeare Company seeks a Head of Application Delivery
CLOSING DATE: 2 July 2017
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LOCATION: London, UK
JOB: Shakespeare’s Globe seeks a Globe education Coordinator, Higher Education
CLOSING DATE: 26 June 2017
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LOCATION: London, UK
JOB: Shakespeare’s Globe seeks a Theatre Assistant
CLOSING DATE: 25 June 2017
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LOCATION: London, UK
JOB: Shakespeare’s Globe seeks a Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Globe Education: Read Not Dead
CLOSING DATE: 21 June 2017
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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
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JOBS BELOW POSTED 16 June 2017

LOCATION: Ashland, Oregon, USA
JOB: Oregon Shakespeare Festival seeks a Human Resources Director
CLOSING DATE: Not Known
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LOCATION: Ashland, Oregon, USA
JOB: Oregon Shakespeare Festival seeks a Concessions Lead
CLOSING DATE: Application deadline is 12 July 2017
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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
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LOCATION: Ashland, Oregon, USA
JOB: Oregon Shakespeare Festival seeks a Scenic Artist
CLOSING DATE: 18 June
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LOCATION: Ashland, Oregon, USA
JOB: Oregon Shakespeare Festival seeks a Wig and Hair Technician
CLOSING DATE: This position is open until filled.
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LOCATION: Ashland, Oregon, USA
JOB: Oregon Shakespeare Festival seeks a Wig Master
CLOSING DATE: This position is open until filled.
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LOCATION: Ashland, Oregon, USA
JOB: Oregon Shakespeare Festival seeks a Company Manager
CLOSING DATE: This position is open until filled.
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You have reached the end of the Shakespeare Magazine Jobs Page.
Please mention Shakespeare Magazine when applying for jobs.

This summer, why not study Shakespeare in the beautiful English city of Cambridge? The University of Cambridge International Summer Programmes bring together adults of all ages and backgrounds to learn from some of its finest academics

For centuries, the University of Cambridge has shaped and changed the world through visionary ideas and ground-breaking discoveries. And its International Summer Programmes (9 July–19 August 2017), with their reputation for excellent teaching and inspirational programmes, reflect this heritage.

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The Shakespeare Summer Programme (6-19 August) allows you to find out about the latest developments in Shakespeare studies. You can study the power, beauty, meaning and context of his plays; explore aspects of performance in workshops led by a professional actor and director, and discover connections with the wider world of Elizabethan culture.

Leading academics teach a rich collection of open-access courses and the classroom sessions allow for close discussion with these course directors. Classes are supplemented by morning lectures and evening talks given by subject specialists. What’s more, you can join an excursion to see Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe and enjoy evening performances of some of his plays in beautiful Cambridge College gardens.

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Other programmes include Literature, Creative Writing, Ancient and Classical Worlds, History, and Medieval Studies.

To add to the experience you can stay in a historic College close to the city centre. Each is different in character, but all offer a warm welcome and the opportunity to meet fellow students at meals in magnificent dining halls.

Long summer days provide opportunities to discover a peaceful side of the city that tourists seldom see. You can explore the beautiful Colleges, visit art galleries and museums, relax in a punt on the river, or share a traditional English tea in nearby Grantchester.

It’s no wonder so many people return year after year to broaden their perspectives, enjoy being in this remarkable place and getting together with old friends from all over the world.

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More information on the International Summer Programmes may be found here, or you can email: intenq@ice.cam.ac.uk

The International Summer Programmes are part of the University’s Institute of Continuing Education.

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.

How Shakespeare’s vibrant London neighbourhood of Bankside will be celebrating the Bard’s life and legacy in April 2016

Please credit the photographer John Tramper
[Image by John Tramper]

Home to Shakespeare’s Globe, The Rose Playhouse, Southwark Cathedral and The George Inn, London’s Bankside celebrates its Shakespearean history with a host of special events including walks, theatre performances and themed menus.

Shakespeare’s Globe – The Complete Walk, 23-24 April
Visitors are invited on a journey along the bank of the Thames to experience an extraordinary celebration of Shakespeare’s works. 37 screens along a 2.5 mile route through Bankside and beyond will show a series of specially-made short films. Actors including Simon Russell Beale, Peter Capaldi, Dominic West, Hayley Atwell and Zawe Ashton will perform scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, shot in the places hovering in his imagination. Visitors can expect to see The Merchant of Venice’s Shylock within the Venetian Jewish ghetto, and Hamlet at Elsinore’s Kronborg castle.

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Actor Simon Russell Beale

Hamlet, 23-24 April 2016
The Globe’s unprecedented world tour of Hamlet returns home for a weekend of celebratory final performances, marking 400 years since Shakespeare’s death. Tickets are currently sold out but more are due to be released in the weeks before the performance.

Southwark Cathedral
The tombstone of William’s brother Edmund Shakespeare, who was an actor, lies between the choir stalls in Southwark Cathedral, the oldest cathedral church building in London. Shakespeare’s troupe of actors lodged here, and the choir at the Cathedral prospered during Shakespeare’s day when Southwark was the entertainment centre of London. A Shakespeare monument and stained glass window (depicting characters from some of his plays) is the Cathedral’s most popular memorial.

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In collaboration with Shakespeare’s Globe, a specially curated service will take place at 11am on Saturday 23 April. The service is invitation only and will blend liturgical worship, music and performance, while drawing on material from Shakespeare’s late romances.

It will be followed by Find Me a Publisher at 2pm, the story of Heminge and Condell and the journey of the First Folio towards publication. The event will feature lute songs and performances from Arthur Smith, Rick Jones and Jane Jones. Find Me a Publisher is free and open to the public.

On Friday 22 April and Friday 29 April at 11am there will be guided walks uncovering the history of Bankside and the links between the Bard and the Cathedral.
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The Rose Playhouse
Bankside’s original Tudor theatre – where Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part I and Titus Andronicus were first performed – will kick off celebrations with a midnight performance of Much Ado About Nothing on Friday 22 April. Wolf Sister Productions and director Alex Pearson stage a modern take on the much-loved Shakespearean comedy.

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Measure for Measure
, co-directed by Simon Rodda and Rebecca Rogers, will follow from 10 May to 26 May 2016. Tickets £12

Every Saturday from 10am – 5pm, explore the fascinating history of The Rose and its exciting future. At present, two-thirds of the original foundations have been excavated and protected for future generations to experience. The Rose Theatre Trust is now engaged in raising funds to excavate the remaining third and to make the site a permanent display as an educational and historical resource for the public to learn from and enjoy.

WALKS AND TOURS

Shakespeare’s Bankside – a walk with John Constable
Wednesday 27 April at 7pm-8.30pm and Sunday 8 May at 2pm-3.30pm.
Join local historian, writer and playwright John Constable to discover Shakespeare’s Bankside.
On this free walk, visit the sites of famous playhouses – set among bear-pits and brothels. Constable’s popular Bankside walks reveal the human face of The Bard in the place where he and his fellow actors lived, worked and partied.
Walks start at Shakespeare’s Globe and finish at The George Inn. Duration: 1.5 hours.

FOOD AND DRINK

Bread Ahead bakery in Borough Market will be serving Honey and Mead doughnuts as the order of the day, filling their famous decadent doughnuts with an Elizabethan twist. On Sunday 24 April they will run two half-day workshops – The Bread Ahead Ye Olde Introduction to English Baking – where participants will learn how to make Lardy Cake, a classic white tin and Manchet, an Elizabethan bread recipe.
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British restaurant Roast will offer a special menu from 18-24 April, with typical dishes of the era, along with special cocktails. On 23 April, the bar will be full of themed activity including small plays, a children’s choir, mandolin guitar player, and a prize giveaway for all diners to enter.

Gordon Ramsay’s Union Street Café will celebrate Shakespeare with a special menu of authentic dishes from Venice, Verona and Vicenza – the exotic corner of Northern Italy imagined in The Merchant of Venice, The Two Gentleman of Verona, and Romeo and Juliet. Enjoy a feast of baccala, bigoli pasta and Venetian fried cream from 23 April to 22 May.
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The four-course dinner menu, including a Romeo & Juliet cocktail on arrival, is £40 per person, or £55 with matching wines.

Following an extensive refurbishment, and to coincide with Shakespeare’s anniversary, the Swan Restaurant at Shakespeare’s Globe has re-opened its doors with a vibrant new look and new menu. Diners can experience a Midsummer Night’s Dream-themed afternoon tea for the occasion from 23 April. The new Hilton London Bankside will offer an honorary cocktail menu in The Distillery bar.

Bankside’s nearest tubes are London Bridge/Southwark, while its closest train stations are London Bridge/Blackfriars.

Go here for more information on all Bankside’s activities.

Special courses from Shakespeare’s Globe held at Bristol’s Clifton College help teachers unlock the power of the Bard

Shakespeare’s Globe has created five new Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses for teachers to unlock active, practical approaches to teaching the curriculum through Shakespeare.

The courses are created by Globe Education in line with requirements at Key Stage 3, 4 and 5.

GlobeEd Teachers' Workshop May 2012
The courses commenced in October with ‘Shakespeare for teachers new to the profession’, followed by ‘Shakespeare’s Villains’ in November, and ‘Fathers and Daughters in Shakespeare’s plays’ in January.

Next up is ‘Shakespeare and Leadership’ on 7 May 2016 and ‘Teaching Shakespeare’s Tragedies’ on 11 June 2016. Then ‘Shakespeare’s Villains’ is repeated on 2 July.

Each is an intensive Saturday course held at, and in collaboration with, Clifton College, an independent school in Bristol. Whole departments are particularly encouraged to attend.

GlobeEd Teachers' Workshop May 2012
The training is delivered by Globe Education Practitioners – actors, directors and creatives who take techniques developed on the Globe stage and in the rehearsal rooms, and develop them for effective use in the classroom.

Each course offers a range of approaches for exploring Shakespeare’s language, techniques and characters in ways that avoid a ‘Shakesfear’ forming in students – or teachers.

“Clifton gives us a wonderful opportunity to share the Globe’s approaches to teaching Shakespeare with teachers and students in the West Country and south Wales,” said Director of Globe Education Patrick Spottiswoode.

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“All workshops are infused with the spirit and soul of lively action, play-centred and playful, and led by a team of Globe Education practitioners who enjoy making play for a living,” he added.

The cost of the courses is £150 per applicant per day. Discounts are available for schools which book for whole department training.

Go here for more details, or Telephone: 020 7902 1463.

Charles Edwards plays the unfortunate king in a glittering yet thought-provoking Richard II at Shakespeare’s Globe

[Images by Johann Persson for shakespeare’s Globe]

Simon Godwin’s sumptuous production begins with the golden coronation of a boy-king, the future Richard II, the coronation reminding us of the fragile nature of power in a world of court theatrics.

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Richard II (Charles Edwards) is noble yet also delightfully petulant, a contrast to the masculine, clad-in-black Henry Bolingbroke (David Sturzaker). But the production does not hinge on facile oppositions, instead it emphasises the complexity of royal politics. And in the gage throwing scene the ridiculous nature of court factions comes alive, with gloves flying on and off stage.

William Gaunt is a tour-de-force as the ageing John of Gaunt, and Richard’s cruel reaction to his impassioned dying speech is beautifully executed. Richard’s flippancy fades into despair as he loses his hold on power to an ambitious Bolingbroke.

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Anneika Rose plays Queen Isabel with energy. However, the director leaves the ambiguities of her marriage to Richard largely unexplored, opting instead for conventional shows of conjugal tenderness.

The final imprisonment scenes are tastefully done, and Richard is presented with the same wooden horse he held in his boy-coronation. His pathetic reaction to this old toy is particularly poignant.

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The Globe’s thrust stage makes for an intimate proximity with the actors during many of the ‘high’ scenes. The set design by Paul Wills, incorporating the standards of Richard II and Bolingbroke, is evocative of the deeply visual aspect of medieval power. The music, composed by Stephen Warbeck, is also fittingly stately and regal.

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Despite these courtly elements the production also underlines the play’s human aspects, full of foibles and folly. The comic scenes in the garden add warmth, the actors utilising their proximity to the groundlings. Delighting the audience at the end, William Chubb and Sarah Woodward, as the Duke and Duchess of York, make much of their ridiculous pleading for their son, the Duke of Aumerle (Graham Butler).

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As we walked away from the Globe, stepping over the golden confetti strewn on the ground, we realised with surprise that Shakespeare’s words still resonated with us today in their exploration of nationality and identity.

Richard II was staged at Shakespeare’s Globe, London from 11 July – 18 October 2015.

“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.