Conveners: Adeline Chevrier-Bosseau (Sorbonne Université – IUF) achevrier.bosseau[at]gmail.com, Nancy Isenberg (Rome Three University) nancyisenberg[at]gmail.com, Mattia Mantellato (University of Udine) mattia.mantellato[at]uniud.it
This year’s Shakespeare and Dance seminar proposes to explore the notion and perception of change in relation to Shakespeare-Dance connections, including but also going beyond dance pieces inspired by Shakespeare’s works. We invite contributors to reflect on historical evolutions (global changes, shifts of political influence, the current pandemic crisis), individual transformations (of artists, choreographers, performers) and aesthetic alterations (reworking classical dance towards modern and contemporary practices, for example) that have determined a fertile cross-cultural and hybrid ground for the conception and relentless revision of ballet/dance productions based on Shakespeare’s texts.
COVID, the war in Ukraine, the influence of social media, have transformed the reception and the ways we approach and engage with the world of ballet and dance, not only in terms of live-streaming performances but also on the composition and functioning of ballet ensembles, artistic directions, and dancers’ careers.
Gender, ethnicity, body shape, (dis)abilities, inter-relational behaviors, social, economic and political status have always affected the lives and practices of individual performers, dancers, and choreographers that have worked on Shakespeare. Some of them identified with the Bard’s protagonists (José Limón’s Othello), others have reframed his themes in order to reflect on societies’ transformations (Bausch’s Macbeth), others have reworked his plots in order to propose original re-adaptations (Vámos’s Romeo and Juliet).
In terms of aesthetic alterations/revisions, Shakespeare has served as source of inspiration for changes in dance technique, from ethereal en-pointe heroines such as Juliet, to more rebellious and earthly fairies. Musical experiments, spatio-temporal alterations, and an ever-shifting vocabulary, from classical dance staples such as attitudes and precise port de bras to the use of words, natural elements and street dance in the choreographic praxis, the connections between ballet/dance and Shakespeare reflect ongoing epistemological and ontological changes, in human nature, creative imagination and embodied or corporeal expressions. We welcome specific case studies, contributions with historical and comparative approaches (over time, across space, intersectional within and outside the world of performance), contributions connected with other fields, aiming to fill in gaps and broaden our field, give recognition to its influence in larger contexts.
With the help of digitalization today’s scholars may have an almost limitless access to theatre related manuscripts. Electronic resources of perhaps centuries old theatrical papers, such as promptbooks, stage designs, sketches, so far hidden in library archives, have recently become (not fully searchable but at least) researchable courtesy to the greatest libraries, e.g. the Theatre Archive at the V&A Museum or the Shakespeare in Performance: Prompt Books from the Folger Shakespeare Library. This change in the general accessibility of research material triggers a change in the field of Shakespeare in performance as well. It is high time, then, that we discussed the novel ways of approaching, examining, analysing such documents. Who have been the readers of these materials? What can these documents reveal, what can be lost, what can we gain? To what extent is it possible to reconstruct a production? What methodologies can we develop? And, ultimately, to what extent do such documents change our perspective on a play?
This seminar invites papers by scholars who base their claims on performance scripts and is interested in what only these performance documents – be them cheap prints of acting editions, handwritten promptbooks, or annotated director’s copies – can reveal. Suggested topics may include, but are not limited to:
- Promptbooks and performance editions
- Printed/critical and performance editions
- Director’s annotated copies
- Actor’s annotated copies
- Performance texts and critical editions
- Reconstructions of historical performances
- Reading promptbooks marginalia
- Users of promptbooks and performance editions
This seminar seeks papers that investigate the influence of social and political changes over the past two year on current Shakespearean research and scholarship. It is now customary to read Shakespeare geographically as well as politically to think beyond the location of his plays and the space of the stage itself. This includes matters of mobilities, territory, war, and ecology, which are all highly complex political and geographical questions which have returned to the fore in the past two years. The war in Ukraine has returned Europe to the familiar trope of destruction vs reconstruction which devastated the world during the Covid-19 pandemic. Easing our countries out of the immobility of lockdown is hardly life-affirming when it also involves the enforced displacement of populations from war-torn countries as well as regions devastated by poverty or global warming. In post-Brexit Britain, a controversial plan to deport refugees to Rwanda is underway. The rise of extremist political movements globally presents a threat to democratic values. With culture classified as ‘non-essential business’ over the past two year, many theatres struggle to run to full capacity and many small companies have collapsed.
This seminar will focus on the extent to which these upheavals are forcing us to rethink the contribution Shakespearean research and/ or performance can make to today’s world. How do current political changes influence the development of Shakespearean research? How are these developments reflected in performance? Which opportunities have arisen out of crisis situations such as pandemics such as the Covid-19 pandemic or the war in Ukraine? Can Shakespeare’s work enable us to make sense of death, destruction, and sacrifice? What role can Shakespearean theatre play during lockdowns and in reconstruction? Is Shakespearean criticism an effective tool to understand the return of neo-fascist movements in Europe and the rest of the world?
This seminar seeks to delve into the many genres of Shakespeare fiction and how that has further spurred creativity and responses in reading audiences who have either been introduced to the bard for the first time through these works or have revisited him in new and varied ways. During the pandemic, people transitioned from watching Shakespeare in the theatre to watching him on streaming channels, listening to Shakespeare over podcasts, and in particular, reading Shakespeare, whether the original plays, or Shakespeare fiction. Shakespeare has always had a significant presence in contemporary fiction with a wide and varied audience across genres as far ranging as young adult romance, historical fiction, biofiction, dystopic fiction, urban fantasy, horror, and detective fiction. These novelisations wrestle with what Shakespeare is and what his work means for our present moment. Peter Erickson has demonstrated that when we rewrite Shakespeare, we rewrite ourselves, treating Shakespeare not as the hallowed Bard to be either worshipped or struck from his pedestal but as a ‘richly complex reference point within the larger project of cultural change (176)’ Nowhere is Shakespeare more changed than the Shakespeare we find in the pages of novels across the generations since he became popular, both through the efforts of David Garrick, as well as the colonising mission of the British, leading to the inevitable question of what impact this particular generic transition have on the implicit rewriting of Shakespeare.
We would therefore invite papers on the following possible topics:
- The relevance of Shakespeare fiction in this huge global moment of cultural change and how people rewrote Shakespeare to respond to the crisis
- How the pandemic influences the interpretation of Shakespeare
- Individual responses to Shakespeare through writing, editing, or interpreting Shaxfic
- Shakespeare’s fictionality or Shakespearean challenges to modern fiction
- New ways of online community building through Shakespeare during the pandemic
- Community building through Shaxfic via book clubs, writing and discussing fan fiction related to a novelised adaptation, online readings from fictionalised Shakespeares, lectures and seminars
- Experimentation with genre and form
- The proliferation of Shakespeare biofiction
- Women editing and changing Shakespeare through works such as Chloe Gong’s These Violent Delights and These Violent Ends, or even productions such as A Two Woman Hamlet at the Edinburgh Fringe 2022, and possibly how these compare to older adaptations by women such as Joanna Courtney’s Shakespeare’s Queens trilogy – Blood Queen, Fire Queen, and Iron Queen, Margaret Atwood’s Hag-seed, Lisa Klein’s Ophelia, Rebecca Serle’s When You Were Mine, or Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet.
- Non-Anglophone prose translations of Shakespeare before and after the pandemic
 Peter Erickson, Rewriting Shakespeare, rewriting ourselves, University of California Press, 1991.
When ‘Fate’, in the guise of the post-Second World War conquerer, ‘o’erruled’ the course of history of Eastern Europe, its theatre professionals perfected the art of subversive revisioning of Shakespeare as a survival strategy. This seminar focuses on appropriations by East European dramatists with shared historical experience of communist totalitarianism and the façade democracy of the post-communist transition. We are interested in exploring what Ileana Orlich terms ‘dramatic transcreations’: texts which use Shakespeare’s cultural capital to safeguard authors while enabling a discourse of resistance and social commentary, which provide intellectual pleasure and entertainment through meaningful Shakespearean subtexts while augmenting contemporary voices.
Specifically, we invite papers on Shakespearean transcreations which have traversed national borders, such as Ivo Brešan’s ‘grotesque tragedy’ A Performance of Hamlet in the Village of Mrdusa Donja (1966), Heiner Müller’s Macbeth (1971), The Hamlet Machine (1977), Anatomy Titus Fall of Rome A Shakespeare Commentary (1985), Nedyalko Yordanov’s The Murder of Gonzago (1988), Matéi Vişniec’s Richard III Will Not Take Place, or Scenes from the Life of Meyerhold (2005). How have such widely circulating plays contributed to their indigenous theatre cultures? How have they been integrated into new theatre and cultural traditions? How have the works’ significations endured or changed in view of their transnational reception?
- Hamlet, Macbeth, Lear, Richard III, Titus, The Tempest, etc. as sources for new narratives;
- intergeneric transmutations: parody, satire, irony, the grotesque;
- dramatic expressions of social critique and political resistance; bypassing censorship; dramatizing the invisible and marginalized;
- individual, professional, social (traumatic) memories of totalitarianism;
- popular, populist, high-brow Shakespearean transcreations;
- puppet-theatre transcreations;
- unstaged literary translations of Shakespearean transcreations;
- networks and directions of exchange of Shakespearean transcreations: centre or margin, re-imports of works by diasporic writers in their native countries, etc.
The organizers welcome collaborative contributions.
The seminar invites papers reflecting on Shakespeare translations as a vehicle and/ or mirror of change in interpretative trends or staging practices in the late 20th or 21st century. In particular we see to explore:
- the relation between translation and performance,
- the changes in translation norms, strategies and concepts,
- the evolving cultural status of Shakespeare translators,
- the (non)canonicity of translations,
- the political vs. aesthetic context of retranslations,
- the power of patronage in Shakespeare (re)translations,
- editorial practices in Shakespeare (re)translations,
- hybridity in translation (adaptation, tradaptation, appropriation),
- the impact of new media on the emergence and dissemination of new translations,
- constructing and exploring digital archives of translations.
The underlying aim of the seminar is to explore the ways Shakespeare translators respond to the challenges of the time and position themselves in and against the body of earlier rewritings. This refers in particular to the shifts in translation strategies as well as to the broadly understood translation discourse as manifest in critical pronouncements, scholarly analyses and translators’ polemics. Thus we are eager to explore the relation of new translations to national cultures, and the way they affirm or contest earlier practices with regard to e.g. literary conventions, generic features or language use. Additionally we welcome methodological proposals, seeking to exemplify and define new forms of rewritings, transgressing on the ever intuitive boundaries of literary translation or venturing into ‘states unborn’ or ‘accents yet unknown’.
Conveners: Pascale Drouet (University of Poitiers, France) pascale.drouet[at]univ-poitiers.fr , Isabelle Schwartz-Gastine (University of Caen, France) schwartz-gastine.isabelle[at]wanadoo.fr, Imke Lichterfeld (University of Bonn) lichterfeld[at]uni-bonn.de
“Casting is a fundamental aspect of interpreting Shakespeare’s plays in performance and reflects the values, anxieties, and preoccupations of our society” (Reimers, 2016: 263). Recently there has been an increase in the number of all-female companies to perform Shakespeare’s plays and in the number of actresses to play Shakespearean male characters: an all-female Richard II (National, 1995), Richard III (Globe, 2003), King Lear (Bulandra, 2010). Every now and then another actress donned Hamlet’s dark suit for an artistic tour de force since the 1850s (starting with Charlotte Cushman, Sarah Bernhardt, Suzanne Després, Asta Nielsen to Maxine Peaks, Michelle Terry, Cush Jumbo) or tried themselves in relatively neutral or genderless roles as Ariel (Priscilla Horton in 1838, Aranka Várady in 1925, Giulia Lazzarini in 1983 Tempests directed by Macready, Hevesi, and Strehler, respectively). RSC Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman devoted the 2018 winter season to productions featuring a female Mercutio and Prince Escalus (Romeo and Juliet), Timon (Timon of Athens), Thersites, Agamemnon, Aeneas and Calchas (Troilus and Cressida).
This seminar aims at questioning and comparing gender changes in casting in the variety of European practices. How significant is this increase? Is it punctual or the start of a significant change? What are the motivations behind these casting choices? Are they prompted by professional skills, ideological or/and socio-political stakes? How do they influence practice (voice training, costume designing, acting etc.)? Are these changes supposed to pass unnoticed, or are they meant to imply that the actresses are giving a feminine touch or a sense of otherness to the part? What value do they bring? How do the gender frictions they create invite us to change our vision of the play? Do these casting choices lead us to “something rich and strange”? How are these productions received both by audiences and critics?
Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted by theatre-makers working in totalitarian regimes across the world, their popular status as classic texts lending them a degree of protection from censorial interventions. In the former Communist contexts of central and eastern European countries, for instance, Shakespeare’s tragedies in particular became a codified medium through which artists could covertly criticise the state. Depictions of authoritarian leaders in plays such as Macbeth and Richard III as well as characters like Hamlet, who could be read as figures of resistance to such leaders, have seen Shakespeare pressed into service of political dissent as, what Dennis Kennedy has termed a “secret agent under deep cover” in these geopolitical settings (4). While this view positions these “undercover” Shakespeare adaptations as subversions of the state’s censorship, Emily Oliver has recently cautioned against the impulse to view them exclusively or even primarily through this dichotomising lens (e.g. “undercover” Shakespeares versus a naïve and largely uniform state-censor). Instead, Oliver highlights the complex relationships that underlie artistic production under politically repressive conditions, in which theatre-makers are forced to “articulate dissent within a contained framework predetermined by the government” (147). In this seminar we are interested in examining the ethics of adapting or “changing” Shakespeare’s plays to fit within this “predetermined framework”. Possible topics for essays include:
- Location of Shakespeare’s plays at the “interface of dissidence and state power” (Oliver 147).
- Self-censorship in Shakespeare adaptation.
- Responsibility of theatre-makers to Shakespeare’s text and/or their audiences.
- Question of agency in the relationship between censors and theatre-makers.
- Role of Shakespeare adaptation in totalitarian contexts in delimiting possible discourses.
- Relationship between translation and censorship.
- Censorship of multilingual adaptations of Shakespeare.
- Theatre-makers’ responses/solutions to the proscription of certain physical behaviours/movements on stage.
“What’s in a name?” is a question that has attracted much attention in recent decades, emphasising the crucial role of names in Shakespeare’s works and bringing a fruitful contribution to Shakespearean studies and productions. Although recent interest is obvious, much remains yet to be done in understanding Shakespeare’s borrowings, coinages, and influence. This seminar thus invites contributions which include (but are not restricted to) the following topics:
- Shakespeare’s name changes within plays and from sources. From names to nicknames, a substantial number of names have been altered. The act of naming and renaming should be explored to understand the mechanisms and effects of this phenomenon.
- The evolution of names in print. How have the different editions of the playwright’s works influence the status and nature of the characters’ names? What does it tell us about the treatment of names by Shakespeare, his printers, and our contemporary editors?
- The influence of Shakespeare. Henry Fielding alludes to Shakespeare’s names: “[W]herefore art thou Tom Thumb?” It would thus be appropriate to study the way in which names coined by the playwright has influenced other authors and the debate on names.
- Names on stage and screen. How do contemporary directors convey the meaning of a name knowing that its lexemes had different connotations in early modern England?
- Translating and “tradapting” names. How do non-anglophone translators and directors world-wide deal with the characters’ names?
- The mystery behind names. The authorship question and the search for the identity of some characters (e.g., John Falstaff) have triggered a flurry of interest. What are the most recent findings and more importantly, why are these questions so crucial?
- Onomastics and Shakespeare. How have the recent studies on Shakespearean names changed our understanding of the playwright’s works?
 Henry Fielding, Tom Thumb. A tragedy. As it is acted at the Theatre in the hay-market, London: J. Roberts, 1730, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, 2.1., T125610, 8.
When Harold Bloom announced that Hamlet is a “Prince’s play” he merely articulated what other critics had thought before him: that the dramatic focus of Hamlet centred on its protagonist. While it is hard to claim otherwise, this seminar would like to look elsewhere, at the way in which the Elsinore royal couple are translated onto page and stage and the manner in which they come to function as cryptic allusions/ signifiers/ symbols for the political realities beyond them.
Given the present political context, we believe it is relevant to revisit such topical issues as sovereignty, tyranny, authority, the acquisition and retention of power with a focus on Hamlet’s “mighty opposite”. Thus, we aim to look closely at Claudius as a figure that is constructed around the culturally and historically variable notions concerning the proper use of political power and the required attributes of a successful political leader.
We are also seeking papers on the changes in the presentation of Gertrude, the “Imperial Jointress”, who even more than Ophelia seems to pose a challenge for interpretations seeking female agency on stage. Rewriting/reimagining Gertrude puts the gendered nature of politics, both in Elsinore and in the world outside of the play, under the spotlight.
We are interested in papers that address the following:
- the history of Claudius and/or Gertrude-oriented academic commentary,
- the re-imagining of Gertrude and/or Claudius in translations, adaptations and rewritings of Shakespeare’s play,
- Claudius and/or Gertrude in stage and screen performances, in written and visual texts,
- corrupt power-play through Hamlet: political commentary in theatre with a focus on Gertrude and/or Claudius.
Conveners: Natalia Khomenko (York University, Canada) khomenko[at]yorku.ca, Viktoria Marinesko (Classic Private University, Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine) vmarinesko[at]gmail.com, Vladimir Makarov (St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University of Humanities, Moscow) mail[at]vmakarov.name
Throughout the turbulent political changes and military conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries, Shakespeare has often been enlisted as a cultural banner and a propaganda mouthpiece, both to argue for peace and to encourage military aggression. In 1916, as the Tercentenary of Shakespeare’s death was being commemorated during World War One, both Britain and Germany claimed Shakespeare for their own side, while in World War Two Churchill personally enlisted Laurence Olivier to make a film adaptation of Henry V to inspire the war effort. In other cases, Shakespeare has transformed into a unifying force. On the day of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian Shakespeare scholars issued a statement in which they called for an immediate return to peace talks, invoking Shakespeare as a symbol of humanist values. The Ukrainian Shakespeare Centre quoted Shakespeare in support of their effort to supply much-needed food and medical supplies to communities under attack.
This seminar sets out to examine how adaptations of Shakespeare’s work have been informed and shaped by the times of conflict. The contributors are invited to investigate the ideological causes to which Shakespeare has been drafted in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Europe, and to explore how his works have been appropriated in support of local and global claims in times of political tensions, ideological clashes, and social crises. Some of the directions the contributors could address include:
- national claims to owning Shakespeare in times of crisis,
- building international relationships through Shakespeare,
- Shakespeare and cultural competition in the aftermath of WWII,
- political oppression and Shakespeare,
- cultural tourism and cultural export,
- Shakespeare and fascism,
- Shakespeare and the Soviet Bloc,
- Shakespeare and political freedom after 1991,
- Shakespeare and military aggression
Conveners: Daria Moskvitina (Zaporizhzhia State Medical University, Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine) daryamoskvitina[at]gmail.com, Oana-Celia Gheorghiu (“Dunarea de Jos” University of Galati, Romania) oana.gheorghiu[at]ugal.ro, Bohdan Korneliuk (Khortytsia National Academy, Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine) korneljukbogdan[at]ukr.net
The European map that was redesigned after the collapse of the Soviet Union and that was more or less maintained before February 24, 2022 meant not only the emergence of many new independent states but also the development of a whole array of rediscovered national cultures. Having to represent the metropolis for a long while, the cultures of the Soviet republics had become deeply integrated in the cultural agenda of the USSR, which actually meant of Russia. They finally stepped out of the shadow of the unifying Soviet ideology and colonial narratives, being ready to become independent actors on the European cultural stage. Back in the 1990s, they still had a long way to go before being recognized and separated from the Russian / Soviet influence. A significant step in this process was establishing / reviving / revisiting national Shakespeare reception. Manifested on different levels (theatrical, textual, mass cultural), it became a sort of litmus test proving high potentials of these cultures, bringing them to European cultural topography, and thus securing their independent status. The essentiality of that status has been particularly obvious after February 24, 2022, when Russia started a full-scale war on Ukraine which aimed not so much at destructions, casualties, and atrocities targeted at the general population and places but at the extermination of the Ukrainian people themselves – their language, history, and culture.
Therefore, the aim of this seminar is to bring some light on the way in which Shakespeare reception in post-Soviet states (Russia deliberately excluded) and also in the states of the former communist bloc has changed since the collapse of the USSR in 1991. We would welcome paper proposals focused on (though not limited to) the following questions:
- what has changed in the selection of plays for translations, and how the translators’ approaches changed; if the Complete Works in a national language have been published and what is the outcome;
- innovations in staging Shakespeare after 1991 – main trends, choice of plays, artistic strategies;
- integration of Shakespeare in the mass cultural / mass media space;
- Shakespearean intertextuality in the national literature;
- how Shakespeare was / wasn’t able to explain something important about the nation to the nation / to the outer world;
- the way Shakespeare helped to create new cultural narratives, to revive forgotten names, to globally map the culture
Conveners: Michelle Assay (University of Toronto, Canada) michelleassay[at]gmail.com, Alina Bottez (University of Bucharest, Romania) alinabottez[at]gmail.com , David Fanning (University of Manchester, UK) david.fanning[at]manchester.ac.uk
Continuing from the Shakespeare and Music Group’s established research and performance events, this seminar continues our core values of interdisciplinarity / cross-disciplinarity and the dual focus on Shakespeare in Music and Music in Shakespeare, covering not only historical/performance practice but also the global impact of Shakespeare as a source of musical inspirationfor what Bolter and Grusin term ‘remediation’ whereby new media achieve their cultural significance by paying homage to, and refashioning, existing media. In this vein, appropriation and adaptation of Shakespeare’s works in music may be considered as indicators of changes in the cultural, aesthetic and even political/ideological tendencies of specific eras and areas.
The means germane to music have the power to enhance and even reconfigure the significances of the written/spoken text. In this way musical adaptations of Shakespeare’s works enrich the towering legacy of the poet, illustrating the change in mentality, politics, aesthetics, religion, and art according to the time and place in which they were composed. Our research aims to cover both how verbal significances change into non-verbal ones (in the case of instrumental music), and how music and words combine (on stage, screen and in song) to yield new works that are still somehow Shakespeare and yet something new. We invite researchers and practitioners, from a diverse background, to submit proposals with themes that include, but are not limited to:
- Shakespeare’s use of and reference to music
- Theoretical approaches to the musical adaptation of Shakespeare
- Composers contemporary to Shakespeare
- The role of translation in musical adaptations of Shakespeare
- Politics and ethics in musical adaptations/appropriations of Shakespeare
- The musical representation of gender/race/class in Shakespeare-inspired music
- Shakespeare and incidental/film, opera, ballet and concert music
- Shakespeare and musical nationalism
- Decolonisation of the Shakespearean music repertoire
- Shakespeare and music in education
- The European and global past “traduced” in the modern and contemporary musical adaptations Shakespeare
- Shakespeare and jazz/popular/folklore music
- Musical adaptations of Shakespeare in times of war or political conflict
- Changes in performance trends
- The afterlives of Shakespeare-inspired music
Conveners: Jacek Fabiszak (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland) fabiszak[at]amu.edu.pl, György E. Szőnyi (University of Szeged, Hungary) geszonyi[at]gmail.com, Agnieszka Żukowska (University of Gdansk, Poland) agnieszka.zukowska[at]ug.edu.pl
As is well known, the early modern way of seeing and understanding the world heavily relied on traditional narratives (Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian mythologies) and seeing as popularized by the emblem tradition. Shakespeare’s plays are strongly infused by these trends, particularly the romances, and his audience easily related to these images and figures. Today’s audiences naturally have difficulties to follow those references and directors have been choosing three possible solutions: either they completely ignore those references, or they try to explain them on the stage (this is the most challenging), or they substitute them with modern figures, imagery, or stage/set devices.
In this seminar we invite reflections on how those trends are domesticated in, among others, present day stage and screen adaptations of this peculiar body of texts. For example, how Peter Greenaway transmutes early modern emblematic imagery into something modern and compelling. We are also looking forward to finding out how the recycling of the romances is unfolding today.
As a corollary to our interest in stage and screen, we also welcome references of other visual materials, such as paintings, sculptures, graphics, or graphic narratives.
Conveners: Nora Galland (University Côte d’Azur, Nice, France) Nora.GALLAND[at]univ-cotedazur.fr, L. Monique Pittman (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI, USA) pittman[at]andrews.edu, Ambereen Dadabhoy (Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA, USA) ambereen_dadabhoy[at]hmc.edu
Rosalind’s characterization of Phebe’s letter manifests a nexus of ethical challenges bedeviling racial representation in adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. Her polysemic phrase, “Ethiop words,” articulates the racist dimension of the drama’s world orientation – the inky-black words identified troublingly with both human physical blackness and, crucially, moral cruelty and immorality. Furthermore, Rosalind’s words encapsulate the crimes of white femininity habitually policing patriarchal hierarchies of gender and white supremacy. Shakespeare’s cross-dressing heroine simultaneously performs an act of adaptation as she recounts rather than recites the contents, style, and import of Phebe’s epistolary challenge.
By interweaving race, gender, and adaptation, this passage prompts the questions central to the seminar that deals with the ethics of “racechange” (Gubar, 1997) in performance, adaptations and tradaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. We will explore cross-racial impersonations such as blackface, or brownface as well as other types of cross-racial mimicry to examine how directors, costume designers, make-up artists and actors construct race – ethically or unethically.
Race is intrinsically connected to change as it is a fluid concept that is deeply contradictory; it is both a social construct that is also understood (by some) as natural and already fixed. To what extent does the phenomenon of “racechange” show the intrinsic paradox of race, being the product of an essentialist constructivism, or a constructivist essentialism?
How do adaptations and tradaptations reveal the polysemy of race through the dynamics of “racechange”? How is the meaning of race fluctuating depending on the cultural context and the language chosen for the tradaptation? What are the consequences of “racechange” in the interactions between the characters and how does it change the meaning of the play?
Thus, this seminar aims to analyse race through a “racechange” embodied by the actor on stage and on film through the use of racial prosthetics and language – “Ethiop words”.
Even though Hamlet is the play usually invoked as the Shakespearean text with the most political, emotional and otherwise appropriative import in Central and Eastern Europe, The Tempest has also enjoyed an intense creative and critical reception which calls for closer scrutiny. This “rich and strange” play has meandered in directions rather different from those characteristic of The Tempests elsewhere. Therefore, we would like to discuss the reception history of The Tempest which speaks strongly to the themes of vengeance and failed reconciliation, impossible acts of witnessing and remembrance, while underlining the significance of the imperfect in the reconstructions of the past and the unsteady in the hope for a better future.
We therefore seek papers that address the creative and critical reception history of The Tempest in Central and Eastern Europe, including (but not limited to)
- The Tempest in CEE thinking about theatre, literature and the arts,
- The Tempest in CEE translation,
- The Tempest in CEE adaptation,
- The Tempest in CEE performance,
- broader aspects of intertextuality with The Tempest in CEE contexts.
We are interested in the erratic, anomalous and extravagant in The Tempest and its translations, adaptations to diverse media, as well as the constellation of texts surrounding The Tempest which allude to it or transform it.
This seminar invites contributions that consider Shakespeare’s collected works, from the 1623 publication of the Shakespeare First Folio through the great variety of its transformations across the globe. How has the First Folio shaped and directed our understanding of Shakespeare’s work? To what extent have notions of a “collected Shakespeare” or of “Shakespeare’s complete works” determined the ways in which Shakespeare travelled across languages and cultures? What was the impact of the First Folio on how Shakespeare’s works appeared in various cultures? What kind of example did the collecting of Shakespeare provide for canonical writers in other language traditions, and to what extent was the collected Shakespeare shaped by the models of other writers and cultures? As one of the most thoroughly studied material books, what can the First Folio teach us about book history as a field, about its promises and its limitations? Where should we look for the most memorable encounters between the culture of the theatre and the culture of the book if we want to create a rich and suggestive context for the future explorations of Shakespeare and the First Folio? The 2023 anniversary is an opportunity to consider what we have learnt about this great book, how significant it has proved across the world, and what new ways can be imagined for its future reception.
Shakespeare has been present on screens for more than 120 years, from the 1899 silent film King John to recent films like Joel Coen’s 2021 Macbeth, the 2018 spin-off Ophelia or Netflix’s 2019 The King. From “box office poison” to “mass-market Shakespeare film”, from “new wave Shakespeare” to a “post-‘Shakespearean-blockbuster’ phase” (L.B. Mayer cited by Lanier, 2002; Lanier, 2002; Cartelli and Rowe, 2007; Hatchuel and Vienne-Guerrin, 2017), the history of Shakespeare on screen has been one of shifts and transformations, as well as endurance and citation. Times and technologies change, generations of directors and viewers succeed each other, but filmmakers continue to be drawn to Shakespeare and find his plays relevant to our world. New versions reinvent previous films (for instance, Spielberg’s 2021 West Side Story) or use similar adaptational strategies, while the resurgence of black-and-white (in Joss Whedon’s 2012 Much Ado About Nothing and in Joel Coen’s 2021 Macbeth), as well as the pandemic-related revival of the filmed theatre subgenre (available on streaming platforms such as Globe Player or National Theatre Home), seem to take us back to the beginnings of Shakespeare on film.
This seminar will provide an opportunity to ask where we are in Shakespeare on screen and in screen Shakespeare studies today. We invite proposals on:
- the extent of the renewal brought by recent Shakespearean screen productions: are we currently witnessing a new “wave” of Shakespeare films or is this notion no longer relevant given today’s media context of fragmentation, niche production and Internet streaming?
- Experimentation/innovation and tradition: how do film/TV/digital Shakespearean productions deal with the traditions established by previous screen interpretations and more broadly with cinematic genre conventions? At what point do innovations turn into conventions which can then lend themselves to parody?
- Screen Shakespeares in a changing world and in times of crisis: between resistance to change, escapism or nostalgia and a meaningful dialogue with the historical moment; and
- Any other interpretations of the theme of ‘continuity and change’ in Shakespeare on screen.