British Council Japan share what happened when Shakespeare’s First Folio came to Tokyo this April

Posted to General with 0 Comments on 23.08.12 by Sarah Ellis

To commemorate the birthday of Shakespeare, on 23rd April 2012, over 130 school students were invited to the British Embassy in Tokyo for a unique opportunity to see Shakespeare’s First Folio and a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle manuscript of a Sherlock Holmes story which had travelled all the way from London to Tokyo.

These two great treasures from the British Library were brought to Japan by De Montfort University as part of the GREAT campaign. The First Folio, published in 1623 seven years after the author’s death, is one of the most precious among the 230 or so existing First Folios, and is arguably the most precious book among the 150 million to be found in the British Library’s collection.

The school students, who ranged from 10 to 15 years, learnt more about Shakespeare during the morning’s activities. These included an introduction to Shakespeare from a Japanese Shakespearean actor and a presentation of the Folio and the Conan Doyle manuscript by Jamie Andrews, Head of English and Dram at the British Library. The students also enjoyed a highly interactive and entertaining English workshop on Romeo and Juliet given by British Council teachers.  Here is a video to share their experiences.

Re-play: exploring the online possibilities of Shakespeare by Rhiannon Jones

Posted to General with 3 Comments on 21.08.12 by Sarah Ellis

‘Broadcast Yourself’, declares YouTube’s tagline, has Shakespeare’s famous notion that ‘All the world’s a stage’1 been taken one step further? Or have we lost the immediacy and impact of human interaction that comes from theatre and ‘art with real bodies’2 ?

In the digital age we are not encouraged to experience these moments of Shakespearean drama as transitory and fleeting, instead the ever present re-play button on YouTube urges us to repeat the same moments over again.

How does this affect our reception of art, and the moment of death? As Herbert Blau, the prominent theatre creator and critic, has said, ‘in a very strict sense, it is the actor’s mortality which is the acted subject, for he is right there dying in front of your eyes.’3

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Breaking Shakespeare by Jake Orr

Posted to General with 3 Comments on 19.07.12 by Sarah Ellis

As founder and editor of A Younger Theatre.com, I hope to shake up some of the dead fluff that goes with reviewing theatre. Having an audience for your opinions doesn’t always mean you’re right, but at least you get to be heard.  When I was a young student studying English Literature at college, I remember a particular moment during a class where I confronted a teacher over her assumption that the words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet said what she believed they said. “But how do we know that Shakespeare meant that?“ I couldn’t understand. Here sat before me, what we are told, the greatest work by any English-born writer, engrained like marble into the literature world, and here I was questioning, challenging. This didn’t bode well.

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The inspiration of the Robben Island Bible by Matthew Hahn

Posted to Featured General with 0 Comments on 17.07.12 by Sarah Ellis

I first heard about a copy of the ‘Complete Works of William Shakespeare’ known as the ‘Robben Island Bible’ when a good friend was reading Anthony Sampson’s wonderful biography on Nelson Mandela in 2002.  I was fascinated by the story and found online the subsequent article that Sampson wrote [http://robbenislandbible.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/o-what-men-dare-do-by-anthony-sampson.html] ‘O, what men dare do’ in the Observer from 2001.

The book’s owner, South African Sonny Venkatratham, was a political prisoner on Robben Island from 1972 to 1978.  He asked his wife to send him ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare’ during a time when the prisoners were briefly allowed to have one book, other than a religious text, with them.  The book’s ‘fame’ resides in the fact that Venkatratham passed the book to a number of his fellow political prisoners in the single cells. Each of them marked his favourite passage in the ‘Complete Works’ and signed it with the date. It contains thirty-two signatures, including those of Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada and Mac Maharaj, all luminaries in the struggle for a democratic South Africa.   These men signed passages within the text, which they found particularly moving, meaningful and profound. The selection of text provides fascinating insight into the minds, thinking and soul of those political prisoners who fought for the transformation of South Africa. It also speaks to the power of Shakespeare’s resonance with the human spirit regardless of place or time.  But, as he explains it, he just wanted a ‘souvenir’ of his time in the single cells. Continue Reading

New Adaptations Solve Shakespeare Mysteries by David Schajer

Posted to General with 1 Comment on 03.07.12 by Sarah Ellis

What if the most radical and innovative interpretation of Shakespeare for the 21st century would be setting the plays on Shakespeare’s stages in the 16th century?

About 5 years ago, Shakespeare changed my life. Before that day, I had a love/hate relationship with his plays. I loved them, but hated the feeling that I wasn’t truly understanding what the plays mean, no matter how much research I did. Continue Reading

Shakespeare in America’s Heartland by Dr. Thomas Canfield, Dramaturg, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival

Posted to General with 1 Comment on 29.06.12 by Sarah Ellis

On a rainy June evening in 1993, the inaugural production of the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, The Tempest, opened in Kansas City, Missouri’s Southmoreland Park. Now celebrating its 20th season, this outdoor, professional, and totally free event is still going strong with the support of the community. This summer, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Antony and Cleopatra will mark 26 total productions of 18 different plays in its history. Continue Reading

Global Shakespeares – A panel discussion by Dr Sonia Massai

Posted to General with 1 Comment on 28.06.12 by Sarah Ellis

Global Shakespeares was a panel discussion organized by the Barbican and Guildhall School’s Creative Learning Department, Barbican Centre, 28 May 2012 - Thelma Holt, Ivo van Hove and Deborah Shaw in conversation with Sonia Massai

This panel discussion took place in the week leading up to the opening of the Ninagawa Company’s stunning production of Cymbeline and the Barbican proved an ideal setting for it. Continue Reading

Jon Gower shares his thoughts on Shakespeare’s transformation and translation happening in Wales this summer

Posted to General with 0 Comments on 25.06.12 by Sarah Ellis

In 1982 I was set upon by some football hooligans on the Tube, who attacked me because I happened to be crying at the time, which shows the sort of hooligans they were. I was crying because of Shakespeare, having just been to see Derek Jacobi and Sinead Cusack in Much Ado About Nothing in which the beauty of the language was enough to make a man weep. So as the beery-breathed thugs crowded in I felt impervious: I was wrapped up in beauty. The Bard’s words were talismans, which would protect me and forever sustain me.

And I’ve felt the same about Shakespeare, and football fans, ever since, so this summer is going to be just glorious. Just like those proverbial buses there’s not one but two enormously promising productions in Wales as part of the World Shakespeare Festival. Continue Reading

Shakespeare Study Break by Valerie Pye

Posted to General with 2 Comments on 14.06.12 by Sarah Ellis

It’s the week of final exams, and the university campus is filled with students struggling to recall that last bit of data, to demonstrate the knowledge they’ve acquired over the course of the term, and to survive on too little sleep and too much caffeine. Two such students sit in the campus coffee house – famous for its green goddess recognized the world over – and recognize their friend, who is waiting to order. As they reach for their phones to text a “hello”, their friend is approached by a handsome stranger, one with whom their friend appears to be rather familiar: in fact, their connection seems quite intimate. Has their friend been having a secret affair? Why have they heard nothing about him? As they sipped their coffees raptly, their curiosity grew … what was going on?? And then it happened: the phrase, the single word, the heightened moment: this was their friend, but this was … SHAKESPEARE!

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How Shakespeare helped my 4-year-old daughter to acclimatize to life in Paris by Daeshin Kim

Posted to General with 2 Comments on 14.06.12 by Sarah Ellis

I’m Korean but I was brought up in England.  After getting my English degree from Oxford, I set off around the world.  I am now married with two children, and we are all US citizens.  And last year we moved to Paris. Continue Reading