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

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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
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
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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
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.
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Please mention Shakespeare Magazine when applying for jobs.

We met with scholar, author and poet Paul Edmondson for a delightful catch-up chat in Stratford-upon-Avon during the recent celebrations for Shakespeare’s birthday

Paul Edmondson

Paul Edmondson

 
Which play or area of Shakespeare are you working on right now? And what are you getting from it?
“This week I’ve spent a lot of time in New Place garden with the sculptor Greg Wyatt who’s produced those lovely sculptures inspired by Shakespeare’s plays which are installed there. I’ve spent a lot of time – and I’m doing it again this evening with a special group of VIPs – looking at Greg’s sculptures with Greg. It’s about me talking about how he made the sculptures, but then reflecting on them as responses to Shakespeare’s works. So, this week I’ve been very much in my head with The Tempest, Julius Caesar, King Lear, The Winter’s Tale, Henry IV Parts One and Two, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet! Those are the eight sculptures.

“One of the great things about them is that they work on you like a Shakespeare play, each sculpture, because they draw you in and the more you look at them, the more you notice – details, a face emerging, a hand. They’re a great highlight for visitors. In fact, only two days ago when I was there I saw a young father with his five-month-old son, reading him the script  – all of them have got quotations from the relevant plays – from Julius Caesar, as if somehow this was having a positive impact on this five-month-old son. I took his photograph and asked if I could use it and he said yes, feel free to use it. It was most touching, because when I look at people interacting with these sculptures inspired by the plays, I know of no other sculpture like them in the world.

“I mean, I can think of sculptures inspired by individual characters and Shakespeare himself, but not in a response to an entire play – it’s more like a painting. People reach out and touch them, and Greg said this is the highest compliment a sculptor can have, that you somehow want to become the work and reach out and touch it. This five-month-old baby was doing precisely that – it was reaching out to want to touch Julius Caesar!”

What have you learned about Shakespeare that would have surprised your younger self?
“This isn’t recently, but I think I would have been surprised about how many books he used to write the plays. I’d have been delighted to know that as a younger self – the bookishness of Shakespeare’s intellect, his sense of study before putting quill to paper. Each play was a significant research project, he wasn’t just dashing these off. Although, of course, they were written at different speeds for different occasions. So, I think that would have been something I’ve learnt since my younger self that I would have been pleased to have known.”

Which Shakespeare character most resembles you?
“Robin Goodfellow in a Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’m not going to expand on that one!”

If I asked you to give mne a Shakespeare quotation, which is the first one that comes to your mind?
“‘If this be magic, let it be an art lawful as eating’ which is The Winter’s Tale as Hermione’s sculpture is coming to take her long lost husband by the hand. That’s in my head because of the sculpture in New Place. I remember the novelist Salley Vickers said to me that was her favourite line in Shakespeare and that’s resonated with me.”

What is your favourite Shakespeare myth?
“My favourite Shakespeare myth is the deer poaching story from nearby Charlecote. I think there’s more than a grain of truth in that myth. It rings true to me, but it does have the status of myth.”

You have the power to cast anyone (actor or otherwise) to play any Shakespearean character. Who do you choose – and which role do they play?
“I would like to see Sir Stanley Wells play Hamlet. Although he wouldn’t want to do this, in my imagination that would embody Stanley’s pre-eminence in Shakespeare studies. Hamlet is the greatest role in Shakespeare, therefore let’s have the greatest Shakespearean of our own times play him. If I was thinking about an actor, I’d like to Shakespeare himself perform Hamlet. Can you imagine? Apparently, he never did because it was written for Richard Burbage, but it would be great to Shakespeare himself play a role in one of his plays. You’ve got those two outlandish bookends, as it were, but I would also like to see Kenneth Branagh play all the other parts he is qualified to play, but hasn’t!”

Paul will be appearing at the Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival, which runs from 18-25 June. Go here for information and tickets.

“I’d like to see Barack Obama play Brutus in Julius Caesar…” Shakespeare Magazine meets Dr Erin Sullivan of the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon

Dr Erin Sullivan of The Shakespeare Institute

Dr Erin Sullivan of The Shakespeare Institute

 
Which play or area of Shakespeare are you working on right now – and what are you getting from it?
ERIN SULLIVAN: “Right now I’m working on Shakespeare and digital technology, so my focus is on how technology is influencing or shaping the performance of Shakespeare today. Some of that has to do with the development of live broadcasting, online streaming, or where people might see a production through a screen digitally. Some of it is where directors are using digital technology on stage, live video on stage or a TV screen maybe to show a 24-hour news cycle alongside a Roman play or something like that.

“Then the last area of it is looking at directors or artists that are thinking about whether it’s possible to take performance fully into the digital sphere – for instance, stage a play using social media on Twitter or Instagram, or use that in a hybrid way with production.

Andrew Scott as Hamlet at the Almeida Theatre

Andrew Scott as Hamlet at the Almeida Theatre

 
“What am I getting from it? Lots! It’s really fun because it means getting to go and see lots of different things. There’s lots of things I’ve been to, thinking it’s not for my project – and then a screen appears and I start rifling through my bag for a notebook! I think, in general, I’m really interested in how people take hold of Shakespeare, what people of different generations have found exciting or emotionally engaging about his plays. Technology has really proliferated and become such an important part of our lives in the last 20 years. That’s one of the biggest changes I’ve seen in my own life, so I think that’s why I was drawn to it.

“A lot of what I’m looking at is still big theatre companies like the RSC or the National Theatre and sometimes slightly smaller ones like the Almeida, but it has also opened up a whole world of what you might call ‘grassroots Shakespeare’ – amateur versus professional. A lot of people are doing Shakespeare themselves in lots of ways and using things like Twitter to explore a character or look at the text in a new way.”

What have you learned about Shakespeare that would have surprised your younger self?
“Gosh, there must be many things. I know for certain when I first came here to do my MA, the thing that surprised me most was, in some ways, that I didn’t know anything about the different versions of different plays. So, the idea that for Hamlet there were three different printings of the play either during Shakespeare’s time or shortly after his death, and that there are some significant differences between those printings – the same with King Lear – that’s something that I remember really blew my mind when I first got here.

Quarto edition of King Lear, 1608

Quarto edition of King Lear, 1608

 
“It’s interesting that in a play like King Lear there can be one line and different versions of that line that actors or scholars can choose from, because although the shape of the play itself is still pretty much the same, there are a lot of moments when you can pick your favourite version. There’s a bit more scope for playing with the text or reinventing it at times that we might not expect. It seems a long time ago, when I came to study, but that’s the thing that surprised me the most.”

Which Shakespeare character most resembles you?
“There’s lots of ones in different moments that I identify with – Brutus with his pensive deliberateness or Falstaff and his fun, but I think the one that first came to mind was Rosalind (As You Like It). In the way of, hopefully, her vivaciousness, her determination to get things her way, but in a good sense! Really going after what she wants, really embracing love and friendship, and that being an important part of their life. That’s maybe one that I would aspire to be like, I should say, as opposed to saying that’s me.”

Rosalind (As You Like It)

Rosalind (As You Like It)

 
If I asked you to give me a Shakespeare quotation, which is the first one that comes to your mind?
“Definitely something from Hamlet, and all the speeches came to mind. I remember one quote that always really struck me when I was younger studying was Hamlet saying ‘there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so’. I thought that was so true. There’s so much black and white truth, but then so much of it is also about the way that we take a certain idea and make it mean something for us. Also, at the darker ends of things, people can really twist things back and forth. So, yes, that was the first one that came to mind.”

What is your favourite Shakespeare myth?
“I like the one about Shakespeare poaching deer at Charlecote. I think just because it makes him seem like kind of a lovable rogue! I guess it’s a Falstaffian or Eastcheap sort of side in that it’s not really that bad of a thing to do, but a bit naughty and a bit funny. Also it very much locates him here in, not in Stratford itself, but out here in the Warwickshire area. Just trying to think about what he would have been like and what he would have got up to.”

You have the power to cast anyone (actor or otherwise) to play any Shakespearean character. Who do you choose – and which role do they play?
“Gosh, there’s so many good ones! I know who I want to cast, but let me think about who I want them to play… Okay, so I’d like to see Barack Obama as Brutus in Julius Caesar. I thought Henry V might be quite nice too, but now that he’s sidelined from power a little, I’d like to see him play that very pensive, thoughtful, would-be politician and see what he makes of it. I think he’d be really good, too! I think he’s very intelligent and quite cerebral, but also funny.”

President Obama with actor Leonardo DiCaprio

President Obama with actor Leonardo DiCaprio

 
“I think he’d be a good Henry V too because he can be fiery and rousing and, I think, he’s got such a nice sense of humour and I think that nice act at the end of Henry V with the wooing of Catherine, I think he’d be pretty good in. Maybe if I could have the two shows in rep, I’d have him doing both! That would be my ideal.”

For more on Dr Erin Sullivan, visit her blog, Digital Shakespeares.

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.”

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“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.”

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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.”

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“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.”

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“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.”

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“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.”

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“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.”

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“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.”

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“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.

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.

Saturday 23 April 2016 saw Stratford-upon-Avon’s annual Shakespeare Parade celebrate not only the 452nd birthday of the Bard but also the 400th anniversary of his death

Naturally, Shakespeare Magazine’s Stratford-upon-Avon correspondent Emma Wheatley was on hand to record the festivities in words and images…

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The crowds gathered in the town centre as a funeral bell tolled and a floral tribute was carried on a wheeled bier.

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Escorted by four masked characters evoking comedy and tragedy, the tribute was placed in front of the dais as it awaited the morning’s parade.

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All the participants of the parade took their places, many dressed in bright colours ready to join the celebration.

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It was time for the Head Boy of the King Edward’s School, which Shakespeare attended as a boy, to bring the quill to the parade and lead the parade to Holy Trinity Church, where the quill will remain for the next year.

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Before the parade set off, local town criers called for “Three cheers for William Shakespeare!”
With each cheer, a confetti cannon was fired to mark the celebration.

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And then a New Orleans Jazz Band surprised the crowded to lead a jazz funeral procession!

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Intriguingly, the jazz funeral was inspired by the James Bond film Live and Let Die. “The jazz funeral has a clear change of tempo,” explained Town Clerk Sarah Summers, “from sombre remembrance to lively celebration, full of music, dancing and expression. That contrast seemed exactly right for our parade which marks both Shakespeare’s birthday and his death.”

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The jazz band got the crowd in a party mood and headed off on the parade route before joining up with the students of King Edward’s School along with other local schools as they led the way to the church.

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Following the band were local dignitaries, businesses and guests – from Stratford and around the world. Many were dressed in Shakespearean costumes.

After the parade, many events were held around the town.

These ranged from stage fighting to mask-making to a 40-minute performance entitled Wondrous Strange by Mimbre. They gamely provided overviews of Shakespeare’s plays through acrobatics. A particular highlight was the retelling of the historical plays with a fight over a crown.
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The evening closed with a spectacular fireworks display that saw an effigy of Shakespeare’s face set ablaze and the sky lit up.

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Finally, a midnight candle-lit vigil was held at Shakespeare’s grave to honour the man himself and bring the day’s celebrations to an end.

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Legendary actor David Garrick’s 1769 Shakespeare Ode was resurrected last month at the Bard’s local church in Stratford-upon-Avon

In the supremely atmospheric setting of Stratford’s Holy Trinity Church, Jeffrey Skidmore directed UK choir and music ensemble Ex Cathedra in a revival of the eight airs by Thomas Arne.

With only a short original score surviving, Sally Beamish composed the two missing choruses. They included references to her new work, A Shakespeare Masque, that made up the second half the concert and accompanied the words of Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

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Actor Samuel West channels the spirit of David Garrick.

Summoned by the chiming bells of Shakespeare’s final resting place, guests took their places along the wooden pews beneath the beautifully up-lit stone interior. Playing pieces from Thomas Morley’s First Booke of Consort Lessons 1599, The City Musick’s authentic Elizabethan sounds transported us back to Shakespeare’s time.

Actor Samuel West’s rousing performance of David Garrick’s words punctuated the complex, and beautifully sung airs that followed. It felt as though they were trying to coax Shakespeare from his 400 year slumber, such was the haunting and hypnotic nature of the choral voices.

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Sally Beamish (composer/viola) with conductor Jeffrey Skidmore.

The second half of the concert was, for me, the most moving part of the evening, thanks to the brilliance of Carol Ann Duffy’s words. Her poems focusing on William Shakespeare the man, as opposed to his works. Other poignant performances included the soloist Katie Tretheway, accompanied by a chorus of female voices, as they performed the sonnet entitled ‘Anne Hathaway’.

Lines such as ‘My living laughing love – I hold him in the casket of my widow’s head as he held me upon that next best bed’, brought their relationship to life and gave it humanity. 

Elizabethan dances performed around the aisles, and audience participation that involved singing in iambic pentameter, made A Shakespeare Masque a varied and communal celebration.

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As the concert ended, the ensemble made a slow exit to the back of the church. A lone piper was the last person to leave along the central aisle following a chorus of ‘Adsum’, and disappearing as if the entire evening had been a dream…

10,000 life-like Shakespeare masks to be given away to Bard fans at Stratford-upon-Avon birthday celebrations!

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[Shakespeare Mask and painting by artist Geoffrey Tristram]

A commemorative Shakespeare Mask will be issued as a souvenir for 10,000 visitors to Stratford-upon-Avon on Shakespeare’s birthday. The gift comes courtesy of parade organisers Shakespeare’s Celebrations, who are preparing the 2016 festivities to mark 400 years since Shakespeare’s death.

During the traditional Quill and Flag Unfurling ceremonies at the heart of this year’s Birthday Parade, the Master of Ceremonies will invite the crowds to put on their masks and give ‘Three Cheers for Shakespeare!’
On the reverse of the mask, there’s a quick and easy guide to the Birthday Parade and other events on the day. Students from local schools will be distributing the 10,000 Shakespeare Masks from around 9:30 on the morning of 23 April in the town centre.

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In 2015, Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Stratford-upon-Avon Town Council jointly commissioned the development of a portrait of the Bard which could be used to create a novel celebrity face mask. The image had to be a recognisable likeness of William Shakespeare, in a high definition, photographic quality for production as a cardboard face mask.

Mike Gittus, Chairman of Stratford District Council said: “This was always going to be a challenge with Shakespeare’s death having been early in the 17th century, long before any form of camera. We concluded that just as important as the accuracy of the image of the mask, it had to be publicly recognisable as that of the famous Bard of Avon. Most importantly the chosen image had to be capable of being converted into a full frontal face mask.

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“We knew that when ‘the world’ ponders on Shakespeare, it sees in its mind’s eye the famous Droeshout engraving of him. This is the picture inside the First Folio of his collected works printed in 1623 and the accuracy of this engraving was endorsed by his contemporary Ben Jonson. The choice was suddenly made simple. Armed with world famous picture, the search was on for an artist to produce a suitable version for conversion into a mask.”

The call was successfully answered by local artist Geoffrey Tristram. Based in Stourbridge, West Midlands and with a lifetime’s experience as a painter and illustrator, Geoff set about discovering what Shakespeare really looked like.

He takes up the tale: “I’m a meticulous kind of fellow and looked at many images of the Bard, taking countless measurements of facial features, cross referencing and overlaying them. I also studied colouring and texture of skin. Gradually, a shape common to several portraits emerged which fitted remarkably closely to the famous Droeshout engraving. But it views the subject at an angle, so my research helped me create a new, head-on view of the face. A typical Elizabethan ruff completed the picture and my portrait became a very convincing Bard!”

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Geoff was so encouraged by the results of the project that he proposed a second portrait, an oil on canvas which he’s also now completed.

Both portraits will be on private display in the Town Hall over the Birthday Weekend, 20-24 April, transferring for public display to the reception area of Stratford-on-Avon District Council in Elizabeth House for the following week to coincide with the Stratford Literary Festival.

Go here for the official Shakespeare’s Celebrations website.

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.” 

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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.”

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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.”

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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 tagline for her one-woman show To She Or Not To She is “Get stuffed, Will!”, but Emma Bentley is a lifelong Shakespeare fan with a fresh – and funny – feminist message

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Writer and actor Emma Bentley plays a parodic version of herself in one-woman show To She Or Not To She, beginning at 14 years old when it is announced that the year nine spring term play is going to be Hamlet.

Emma knows she is perfect for the lead role: she grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon, knows all about Shakespeare, and (not to boast or anything) she’s the best actor in the school. Her gender doesn’t occur to her as being a problem, until her drama teacher informs her post-audition that she “just couldn’t see Hamlet as a girl”.

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Bentley says: “I chose Shakespeare because before I went to drama school I thought I knew a lot about him, and then at LIPA [Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts] I realised how much more complex the plays are. So it was a process of finding out for me. I also am not that good at really serious, intense emotional scenes – I prefer comedy.”

Bentley brings her experience in mime and clowning to the excellent caricatures she presents – a particular highlight is Emma’s diva-ish classmate Jimmy Danish, a Cumberbatch wannabe with a swagger and a quiff, who tells her she should audition for Ophelia because “You’d look really cool drowned”.

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The show’s quirky style and close rapport with its audience are key to its appeal. Alongside the laughs, however, comedy proves a useful mechanism for making people think. Walking home from school in the rain, the young Emma mourns her Hamlet-that-might-have-been. Soaked to the skin, it is as if she becomes Ophelia – side-lined as mad for defying the status quo, and ultimately disposed of with very little fuss. The moment prompts us to wonder how many other young potential female Hamlets are turned into Ophelias as early as their first auditions.

To She Or Not To She is part of a recent upsurge in female actors playing male Shakespearean heroes, notably Harriet Walter’s Henry IV (at the Donmar Warehouse) and Maxine Peake’s Hamlet (at the Manchester Royal Exchange), alongside all-female companies like the Smooth-Faced Gentlemen. But for Bentley there is still a long way to go before female actors have access to the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

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“I did see Peake’s Hamlet in the cinema, and people’s reactions around me were, ‘I wasn’t even thinking about the fact she’s a woman!’” she says. “But female actors in leading Shakespearean roles are still really quite rare in this country and I don’t think they get the recognition they deserve. I feel like that’s quite a depressing answer [to your question]! I think things are changing, just not very quickly, which can be frustrating. I would love it if To She Or Not To She was part of a trend of productions that would get things moving faster.”

“Countries like France and Germany are great for taking Shakespeare and mixing things up. Maybe because there is not that sense of it being a traditional part of their culture in same way, so they’re happy to pull it apart and cut out whole scenes, or look at a character a different light. In the UK, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a conscious thing, the weight of tradition can hold people back.”

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Bentley is certainly comfortable pulling Shakespeare apart – as To She Or Not To She follows Emma through drama school and her attempts to forge an acting career, lines from the plays compare her situation with those of male Shakespearean characters, making a convincing case for how relevant they are to her (female) experiences.

Particularly effective towards the end of the play are Bentley’s original lines written in iambic pentameter. She says, “It’s a generalisation, but I think girls can often be more confident in Shakespeare [than with other plays]”.

And it is through Shakespeare’s rhythms and language that Emma can express her desperation for female voices in theatre. What she wants is not just to be allowed to play male roles, but to find female roles that are crazy, drunk, passionate or brave.

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Although it is intrinsically honest, in places the show verges on didactic where it could allow its audience a little more space and time to draw conclusions for themselves, but Bentley is the first to admit that the show is a work in progress.

“The production is constantly changing – the ending especially has changed a lot. At one point it ended with my character getting a job at the Globe, but I felt like I was just making things up as I’ve never actually been lucky enough to work there, so it wasn’t… honest.

“I’ve also cut the jig at the end [a Globe-style song and dance], even though I love doing it, because people fed back that they felt I just needed to leave time for the final scene to resonate, rather than dancing around as if everything’s OK.”

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It might be the influence of the show, but Bentley seems oddly similar to popular conceptions of Shakespeare – humble, self-parodying and often witty. While To She Or Not To She is a serious reflection on sexism in the acting profession, it is also very comfortable exposing (and laughing at) the pretentiousness that often creeps into an actor’s life, with lines like “Did I play Hamlet? Or did Hamlet play me? That is the question”.

Asked which Shakespearean parts she would most like to play, Bentley muses: “I think I’d have to say Hamlet – I know it’s a cliché, but I feel like this is the right moment for me to take on that role. You hear older actors saying they wish they’d done Hamlet, and I feel like if it doesn’t happen for me in the next three years, it probably never will.

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“I’d also like to play Feste – I’ve played him at drama school but would love to do it again. Directors of Twelfth Night tend to see Feste’s as the lines to cut – he’s just talking nonsense, right? – but having played him and realised what he’s saying, I find there’s so much there that really resonates with life today.”

To She Or Not To She is produced by Joue Le Genre and is touring to Broadway Theatre Catford and Arts Theatre Leicester Square in the UK this month.

Go here for more information and tickets.