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Saturday 9th April 2011, The Theatre Workshop, The University of Sheffield
“Reade him, therefore; and againe, and againe.” (John Heminge and Henry Condell)
In 1623 the actors who put together the first folio urged the public to read (and buy) Shakespeare. But despite this early gesture of interdisciplinarity, the relationship between literary texts and theatrical performances has never been straightforward. The Romantics famously viewed the staging of drama as inferior to reading, and G. Wilson Knight felt that the “deeper meanings” of a play would not “speak in theatrical terms”. For others reading a Shakespeare play is always an incomplete act, an experience of the drama in the wrong medium. In more recent times students, scholars and actors have celebrated Shakespeare as both literary and theatrical. Not only attention to professional productions, but also the act of performance itself is increasingly playing a part in the literature seminar room. In addition, any preparation for a Shakespeare performance involves a close reading of the text(s). With “performance history” sections now a staple part of scholarly editions of Shakespeare, and theatrical and film productions of the plays informing (and forming the subject of) literary criticism, the boundaries between literature and performance are proving ever more porous. Yet while the interactions between text and performance proliferate, the meaning of this interaction remains up for debate.
Literary Shakespeares + Theatrical Shakespeares is an opportunity for critics and performers, lecturers and school teachers to debate what Shakespeare’s different manifestations mean in the twenty-first century. We invite abstracts for 20-minute papers based on the following topics:
Approaching the text(s):
· What do actors, dramaturges and literary critics look for when reading Shakespeare’s texts?
· What constitutes and what is the use of “close-reading”?
· What is the relationship between acting and interpretation?
· What can students and scholars of literature learn from actors’ preparation?
· Do performers and literary critics define concepts such as text, script and character in the same way?
Theorising texts and performances:
· How might interplay between critical theories and performance analysis enhance our understanding of Shakespeare's texts?
· What motivates the literary critic’s use of performance in textual editions and scholarship?
· What constitutes the “text” of a performance? How useful are the traces of a performance (scripts, reviews, costumes, stills, etc.) in analysing the ephemeral experience of the theatrical performance itself?
· Would the development of more rigorous methodologies be helpful or limiting?
· Should different disciplines work together more closely, or do we need to be clearer about our differences? Where might such interdisciplinary dialogue take place?
Performance and pedagogy:
· What are the similarities and differences between teaching Shakespeare at undergraduate level in English degrees, Theatre degrees and conservatoires?
· Should we create a closer collaboration between the ways in which we teach texts and performances in order to offer students broader views of Shakespeare? What form might such collaboration take?
· What has been the impact of new pedagogical methods such as enquiry-based learning?
· What implications does the way Shakespeare is taught in schools have for teachers in Higher Education institutions?
· How have initiatives like the RSC’s “Stand Up for Shakespeare” reconceptualised students’ understanding of Shakespeare and their expectations of Shakespeare courses?
Abstracts of approximately 250 words should be sent to Dr Carmen Szabo (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr Gillian Woods (email@example.com) by 7th February 2011.