We were intrigued to learn that Zaporizhzhia, the sixth-largest city in Ukraine, is home to the exciting academic and cultural venture that is the Ukrainian Shakespeare Centre

Assistant Professor Darya Lazarenko writes:

When this idea first came up, everybody laughed at us – what would Shakespeare have to do with a totally unknown-to-the-world industrial city in the south of Ukraine? We agreed, and jokingly spoke about establishing a Shakespeare Museum. Why not, after all? To paraphrase the words of Ben Jonson, “he was not of an age, but for all time” – and all countries (and cities, at that)! We kept calm and carried on. And so, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine in 2009 the Ukrainian Shakespeare Centre was established by Professor Nataliya Torkut, a Ukrainian Shakespeare and Renaissance scholar, and a team of devoted ‘Ariels’.

Ukrainian Shakespeare Centre

Ukrainian Shakespeare Centre

 
Today the USC is one of the leading Ukrainian academic institutions in the domain of Shakespeare studies, and though we are still sometimes looked at as ‘upstart crows’, we do not mind – we feel proud, in fact. Our aim is to help Ukrainian scholars, teachers, students, readers and theatre-goers believe they all can be upstart crows too.

The Centre organized and successfully carried out five International Shakespeare conferences (in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2016). In cooperation with the Union of Ukrainian Women in the USA, we established an Annual competition of Shakespeare research papers for young Ukrainian scholars, named after Vitaliy Keis. We all very much enjoy reading those ambitious, daring and sometimes even touchingly iconoclastic works that are sent to us for review. We believe this initiative will help us fight the “copy and paste” syndrome that has befallen the young generation.

Professor Nataliya Torkut

Professor Nataliya Torkut

 
In 2009 the Centre launched the website The Ukrainian Shakespeare Portal, which is the first attempt of multimedia representation of Ukrainian Shakespeareana. The portal is regularly updated – it contains a large selection of articles on Shakespeare-related issues (written in Ukrainian, Russian and English), Ukrainian translations of the Bard’s drama and poetry, and an extensive database concerning the Ukrainian reception of Shakespeare’s legacy. Going online for us is one of the ways to prove Shakespeare is not just modern and relevant, but is at the very edge cutting edge today.

To foster Shakespeare scholarship in Ukraine, the Centre has established the annual scholarly journal Shakespeare Discourse (three issues have been published so far). This journal has gained recognition not only in Ukraine but also abroad. Its regular contributors are Shakespeare researchers from the USA, Canada, the UK, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Germany and the Netherlands.

Shakespeare Tragedies Kyiv
We have already started a process of collecting a special Shakespeare library which is unique for Ukraine. Thanks to donations made by Helmut Bonheim, Sophie Pashe, Stanley Wells, Balz Engler, Paul Franssen, Daniel Doerksen, Mary Elisabeth Smith, Michael Dobson and others, this library will allow us to provide critical works on Shakespeare to our colleagues all over Ukraine.

Another aim of the Centre – probably, the most significant one in the long-term perspective – is spreading Shakespeare’s word among young people in our country and making the Bard’s heritage a core element of the Ukrainian school literary curriculum. The members of the Centre conducted several seminars on teaching Shakespeare at school, established the annual competition for school teachers ‘The Best Shakespeare Lesson’ (since 2013), and offer scholarly and methodological support of Shakespeare-related projects at school. In 2014 we launched the email subscription Shakescribe.ua which contains curious facts about the Bard, his writings, life and times.

Professor Kateryna Vasylyna

Professor Kateryna Vasylyna

 
Youngsters are the most challenging and at the same time the most gratifying audience. They often come to us with a conviction that Shakespeare is just a monument on a high pedestal – celebrated, even worshipped, but – alas! – boring. Our aim here is to let the kids see the truth about Shakespeare – his plays are anything but boring! We do it by encouraging them to play along – become Shakespeare scholars themselves and discover, for example, why Malvolio’s stockings were actually yellow and why he so much favoured the notorious cross garters.

They become philosophers when dwelling on the mysterious words of Ben Jonson: “Thou are a monument without a tomb” and work on their eloquence while defending Shakespeare-the-glover’s-son against the anti-Stratfordian claims. By finding out that Shakespeare married young and that he turned out to be a very successful businessman they establish a close ‘supertemporal’ connection with him – he seems to them younger and less of a monument. We hope that in such a way we will kindle the light of curiosity that will in the future make them devour hundreds and thousands of books – not only Shakespeare, but other writers too. We hope that reading will help them change the world and make it a better place for all of us to live in – without war and hatred.

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Even more projects we see in our mind’s eye. And this, probably, is one of the best things about our Centre – it gives hope, it inspires and makes you believe in miracles – with all the slings and arrows still flying around in these turbulent times. If you would like to join our company of dreamers, “lunatics, lovers and poets”, you are very welcome! We are looking forward to hearing your ideas and suggestions, words of encouragement or criticism, anything from love letters to translations and lesson plans – at lrs_info@meta.ua

For more information, visit the Ukrainian Shakespeare Centre website.

Destination Shakespeare is the debut volume of poetry from globe-trotting Stratford-upon-Avon Bard scholar Paul Edmondson

Shakespeare Magazine Editor Pat Reid writes:

If you’re in need of a last-minute Christmas gift for the Shakespeare fan in your life – even if it’s yourself – then I think I may have the answer:

Destination Shakespeare, a slim volume of poems by Paul Edmondson.

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Poems on the subject of Shakespeare – as opposed to poems by Shakespeare – can be problematic. From slavish imitations to politically-motivated ‘responses’, they rarely do the man justice.

I think the difference with Edmondson’s collection is that he’s a Shakespearean to the bone – a well-known scholar, author and representative of Stratford-upon-Avon’s Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

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He’s unashamedly on a quest to connect with Shakespeare’s spirit  (he also has a big thing for Keats). For the reader, it’s refreshing to delve into poems that engage with William – without being dragged over a whole series of the author’s Oedipal obstacles in the process.

As with most poetry, I found the best approach to Destination Shakespeare was to read it out loud. It’s an enjoyable and easy read, but with enough rhythmic twists and linguistic tricks to keep you on your toes.

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Subtitled ‘Shakespeare On The Road’, ten of the poems take the form of a travelogue, covering Edmondson’s journeys to various Shakespeare festivals in the USA and Canada: New Orleans, Utah, Harlem, Nashville and Stratford, Ontario.

Inescapably, there are echoes of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, and this seems a fitting tribute to a legendary American wordsmith.

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‘Six Songs For Shakespeare’ roam from Pontefract Castle to Elsinore and Venice (see if you can guess which Shakespeare plays they reference).

Grouped under ‘Journeying With Shakespeare’, other poems are dedicated to Edmondson’s fellow Shakespeare scholars Michael Dobson and the venerable Sir Stanley Wells.

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As an Anglican priest, Edmondson also interweaves his Christian faith into his travels with Shakespeare. But he’s certainly never preachy, and the sensual delight he evidently takes in people, nature and Shakespearean revelry borders on the pagan. As they say, it’s a broad church.

The book also features a generous foreword from poet Wendy Cope.

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Destination Shakespeare
is available now from Misfit Press priced just £6. You can order your copy 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.

Book your seat for the UK and US cinema screenings of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, starring stage legends Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench

[Images by Johan Persson. Dench Portrait: Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company]

Captured live from London’s famed Garrick Theatre, this prestigious production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale is being broadcast to cinemas across the globe.

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For many of us, it will be the only chance we get to see two living Shakespeare legends – Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh (who also directs).

Stanley Wells, Shakespeare expert and author of Great Shakespeare Actors, recently tweeted: “For an object lesson in speaking Shakespeare’s verse, hear Judi Dench as Time in The Winter’s Tale”.

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For UK screenings of The Winter’s Tale, on Thursday 26 November, go here to find a cinema near you and book tickets.

For screenings in the USA on Monday 30 November, go here to find a cinema near you and book tickets.

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Apart from Kenneth Branagh as Leontes and Judi Dench as Paulina and Time, The Winter’s Tale also stars Tom Bateman as Florizel, Jessie Buckley as Perdita, Hadley Fraser as Polixenes and Miranda Raison as Hermione.

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And the talented supporting cast includes stage veterans John Shrapnel and Michael Pennington. John Dagleish and Zoe Rainey also feature.

Go here for more on Branagh Theatre Company and The Winter’s Tale.

Canadian acting legend Christopher Plummer is delighted to receive 2015 Sam Wanamaker Award from Shakespeare’s Globe

Internationally-acclaimed actor Christopher Plummer has been awarded Shakespeare’s Globe’s most prestigious prize, the 2015 Sam Wanamaker Award, established in the name of the theatre’s founder to celebrate work that has increased the understanding and enjoyment of Shakespeare.

Christopher Plummer is regarded by many as one of the finest living actors on stage or screen today. His Shakespearean roles include King Lear and Iago, Macbeth opposite Glenda Jackson, Hamlet for BBC TV, Henry V, Mercutio, Mark Antony, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Leontes, Bardolph, Benedick, Richard III and, most recently, Prospero at the Stratford Festival in Canada.

My Shakespeare Episode 05 Christopher Plummer

On winning the Award, Christopher Plummer said: “I look at the Globe Theatre today proudly restored and I think how easy it is to forget the long hard struggle. How one man kept circling the planet, mostly alone, to raise the necessary funds. Sam Wanamaker’s passion, devotion and ferocious Elizabethan energy fought for his jewel – our jewel.

“And just when it was ready to be mounted he died, never to look his triumph in the face. Sam Wanamaker was an American whose heart was in the right place. It sometimes takes the New Hemisphere to revive the Old and, by heaven, Sam was living proof of that! In one short lifetime he gave us back one of the wonders of the world.

“Sam knew of my devotion to the Globe and South Bank projects and very generously invited me onto his Board. I was never so honoured – and now this! I am moved beyond measure not just for this, but for Sam, that extraordinary fighter who won the battle for us all.”

My Shakespeare Episode 05 Christopher Plummer

The Sam Wanamaker Award was instituted by Shakespeare’s Globe in 1994 to honour work which has a similar quality to Sam’s own pioneering mission. Christopher Plummer follows former illustrious recipients of the Award, the first of whom was Dr Rex Gibson, creator and editor of the Cambridge School Shakespeare.

Other recipients include Janet Arnold for her pioneering research into Elizabethan clothing; Professor Stanley Wells, Shakespeare scholar and former Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust; John Barton, founding member of the Royal Shakespeare Company; and actor and director Mark Rylance.

Christopher was a strong supporter of Sam Wanamaker as he tirelessly campaigned over the last 23 years of his life to reconstruct the Globe on London’s Bankside.

My ShakespeareEpisode 05 Christopher Plummer

Neil Constable, Chief Executive at Shakespeare’s Globe, commented: “Christopher has illuminated the world’s understanding of Shakespeare through many memorable performances.

He gave unswerving support to Sam Wanamaker, has been an active fundraiser for reconstructing the Globe on Bankside and also strengthened Globe links between London, Canada and the US.”

The Sam Wanamaker Award will be presented to Christopher in Toronto on 12 November, at a gala to celebrate the Shakespeare’s Globe Centre of Canada’s 25th anniversary.

Go here for more on Sam Wanamaker and Shakespeare’s Globe.

Go here to read about Great Shakespeare Actors in Shakespeare Magazine 07.

Issue 07 of Shakespeare Magazine is out now, celebrating 425 years of Great Shakespeare Actors

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Kenneth Branagh is cover star of Shakespeare Magazine 07, in keeping with the issue’s theme of Great Shakespeare Actors.

The venerable Stanley Wells discusses his new book on the subject, handily titled Great Shakespeare Actors, while Antony Sher reveals what it’s like to play Falstaff – the subject of his own new book Year of the Fat Knight.

We also go behind the scenes of the excellent My Shakespeare TV series, while British actress Zoe Waites chats about heading to the USA to play As You Like It’s Rosalind with Washington DC’s Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Other highlights include Shakespeare in Turkey, Shakespeare Opera, and the real story of Shakespeare and the Essex Plot.

All this, and the Russian fans who made their own edition of David Tennant’s Richard II

Go here to read Shakespeare Magazine 07 right now.

And don’t forget, you can read all seven issues of Shakespeare Magazine here.

As always, Shakespeare Magazine is completely FREE.

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.

Globe’s Read Not Dead presents staged reading of Ben Jonson’s Every Man in his Humour at Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

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Since 1995, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre have been presenting productions with less than 12 hours of rehearsal time through their Read not Dead programme. And at 4pm on Sunday 29 June they will be performing Every Man in his Humour in their recently-opened indoor theatre the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

Written by Shakespeare’s famous contemporary, friend and rival Ben Jonson, the play was first staged in 1598 by Shakespeare’s own company The Lord Chamberlain’s Men. And according to the published folio, Shakespeare himself took on the acting role of Old Kno’well.

In Sunday’s performance, distinguished Shakespeare authority Professor Stanley Wells will step into Shakespeare’s shoes by playing Old Kno’well. Joining him on stage will be a cast of experienced actors from stage and screen, including Blackadder comedy hero Tim McInnerny, along with Alan Cox and David Oakes.

Having received their scripts in the morning, the cast will take to the stage at 4pm to perform Jonson’s legendary comedy of misperceptions and deceit. “These are not polished productions, but live experiments,” says a spokeswoman from Shakespeare’s Globe. “There is a shared spirit of adventure and excitement for actors and audiences.”

Go here for tickets and more information.

Every Man in his Humour by Ben Jonson

Sunday 29 June, 4pm

Sam Wanamaker Theatre,
Shakespeare’s Globe,
21 New Globe Walk,
Bankside,
London SE1 9DT