Tribute of a Troubador

Paul Kelly is scheduled to release his new album Seven Sonnets and a Song on 23 April, to mark the Shakespeare 400 anniversary.

Kelly, in consort with some of the highly accomplished Australian musicians he often works with, sings new settings of six of Shakespeare’s sonnets. “So long lives this, and this gives life to thee” – Shakespeare could never have guessed how true his words would turn out to be, or what fresh forms this life of words would take.

The ‘sonnets’ portion of the work is rounded out by Vika Bull singing a poem by Sir Philip Sidney, providing an apt proof of Kelly’s eye for talent that doesn’t have as high a profile as it deserves, no matter what the era.

The song is from Twelfth Night, one of the party pieces of the wise fool Feste, ‘O Mistress Mine’.

Kelly has long been identified as much as poet as a popular music artist, so at some level this kind of project coming from him causes little of surprise, though much of delight.

Kelly is making the album available digitally at midnight Greenwich Mean Time on 22 April, as the morning of the 23rd begins. Later that day he will give a performance of this special work at the State Library of NSW. He will also be speaking about Shakespeare and performing several sonnets at Sydney Writers’ Festival on Monday, 16 May.

Album cover with ink and watercolour sketch of Shakespeare.

Romeo and Juliet: a rose among the wildflowers

12 & 13 March, St Ives.

Also this weekend in the Hunter Valley, and 5 March in Murrumbateman.

Essential Theatre specialise in “Shakespeare in the Vines” performances in vineyards, to a picnicking audience. For two performances only they are bringing their touring production of Romeo and Juliet to the northern Sydney suburb of St Ives, and playing in Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden.

Two men duel with fencing foils among gum trees.


Event information:

Gates open at 4pm with the show commencing at 6pm.There will be two x 50 minute acts with a 20 minute interval. Why not arrive early – relax, unwind and soak up the great picnic atmosphere? Food and drink is available on-site or you can bring your own picnic, but no alcohol can be brought on site. Low-rise chairs will be available for hire or you can bring your own.

Free on-site parking will be available.

This event will go ahead rain, hail or shine. In the event of extreme wet weather or heat the alternative venue will be the Douglas Pickering Pavilion at St Ives Showground, 450 Mona Vale Road St Ives.

Ticket prices are $49 Adults, $44 Concessions and groups of 10 or more, $140 family (2 adults, 2 children).

Full details here.

Black, white and red banner. Text advertising production as detailed above.

Hypotheticals at the Sydney Opera House

15 March, Sydney.

Culture Club at the Sydney Opera House has a morning discussion panel on the theme “If Shakespeare were alive today…”

Chaired by Jane Caro, the speakers are actor Michelle Doake and directors Damien Ryan and Peter Evans.

From the Sydney Opera House website:

“If Shakespeare Were Alive Today… What would he write about, and for whom? Marking 400 years on from Shakespeare’s death, Bell Shakespeare’s Peter Evans (Artistic Director), actor Michelle Doake and director Damien Ryan discuss some ‘what ifs’ in the world of this legendary artist. What would he make of the 21st Century? What do contemporary audiences get out of the classics? If Shakespeare were alive what would he be writing, and perhaps more importantly, for whom?”

Tickets are only $15 for those who somehow manage to free themselves up for an 11am gig.

Full details here.

Sonnet Competition

Does your body hold the soul of a poet? Everybody, surely, has at least one sonnet in them. Here is a chance to share yours.

Open book with centre leaves flying out, becoming birds.

From the Shakespeare Club of Western Australia:

“To join the world-wide observances commemorating Shakespeare’s life and the 400th anniversary of his death the Shakespeare Club of WA is sponsoring a competition:  WRITE YOUR OWN SONNET.

Exercise your imagination and creative spark in a poem in the pattern of a Shakespearean sonnet, but using modern language.

Choose any theme, but link it in some way with Western Australia.

It can be comic, serious, satirical, romantic, descriptive… or what you will.”

Prizes:    1st:  $300     2nd:  $200     3rd:  $100

CLOSING DATE:  23rd September 2016

Full details here.



Auckland has a pop-up Globe

From 19 February, Auckland CBD.

Lucky Auckland is having a Globe Theatre delivered to their doorstep.

Middle-aged white man with glasses, braces and a fine moustache.
Miles Gregory

An amazing project in New Zealand is seeing a full-scale replica of the Globe built, used, then dismantled over the course of 2016. Lots of different companies, loads of plays, workshops, classes and experimental performance work.

Led by Artistic Director Miles Gregory, the core of the programme lies in full-scale professional productions of Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet. “These two masterpieces are performed by a cast of professional actors brought together into a new, specially-formed ensemble repertory company, that have worked with world experts to bring you the so-called ‘shock of the old’: the experience of seeing Shakespeare’s plays performed in the space for which they were written.” (Pop-Up Globe: About Us) However, the venture is offering a frame for a much winder range of projects.

If I were there I would camp out under their makeshift eves and see everything, before it vanishes like Titania’s court.

Logo with block drawing of Globe theatre. Text: Pop-up Globe the 2016 Auckland season.

Full details here

Shakespeare’s Queen Margaret in performance

One performance only, 18 February, Perth.

The University of Western Australia and the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions are facilitating a fabulous opportunity to hear the words of one of Shakespeare’s most compelling and yet least performed characters.

C19th ink portrait of a medieval queen.
Margaret imagined in a 19th Century engraving by W. Joseph Edwards

Queen Margaret d’Anjou appears in four of Shakespeare’s plays, more than any other character. However, three are the sequential parts of Henry VI, which is rarely staged, and her role in the much more popular Richard III is often (disgracefully!) cut. When her portions of this history cycle are put together what emerges is a vivid, striking portrait of multi-faceted woman who is both victim and villain, triumphant and vanquished, admirable and abhorrent at different points in her long life.

Date: Thursday 18 February 2016
Time: 1–2pm
Venue: Callaway Music Auditorium, UWA
Contact: Bob White (

Free and open to the public. No ticket required

Full details here

Merry Wives: the Symposium

One day only, 17 February, Perth

A wonderful opportunity to hear a gathering of international experts on a too-neglected play.

This symposium runs in conjunction with the performances of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor on the New Fortune Theatre, 16–18 February 2016. It brings together international experts on the play and on theatre history.

Further details from Bob White (

Rob Conkie (La Trobe University): Director The Merry Wives of Windsor, New Fortune Theatre
Alison Findlay (Lancaster University, UK): Author Women in Shakespeare: A Dictionary (2010)
Philippa Kelly (Resident Dramaturg, the California Shakespeare Theater): Author of The King and I (Shakespeare Now! series)
Helen Ostovich (McMaster University, Canada): Online edition The Merry Wives of Windsor, forthcoming
Peter Reynolds, (University of Newcastle upon Tyne): Senior Honorary Research Fellow, Centre for the History of Emotions
Elizabeth Schafer (Royal Holloway College, University of London): writing a performance history of The Merry Wives of Windsor for the Manchester University Press Shakespeare in Performance series
Robert White (UWA): Author The Merry Wives of Windsor: A New Critical Introduction

Date: Wednesday 17 February 2016
Time: 10:00am-5:00pm
Venue: Arts Lecture Room 5 (Arts G.61) and the New Fortune Theatre, The University of Western Australia
Registration: This is a free event but numbers will be limited so please confirm attendance in advance with Pam Bond (

Statue of a fat old man in medieval dress leaning on a plinth, skyscraper in background.
Falstaff at Shakespeare Place

Call for Papers: Shakespeare and Music Studies

4 November, Melbourne.

Shakespeare and Music Studies: From theory into practice.

Monash University. Hosted by The Monash Shakespeare Company & The Melbourne Shakespeare Society

One-day Symposium. Call for papers:

C19th watercolour of a jester playing a pipe
Courtice Pounds as Feste in Tree’s 1901 production of Twelfth Night, via

When the field of Shakespeare and music studies emerged in the late-nineteenth century, it mainly concerned itself with the problems reconstructing the musical materials and practices of early modern theatre cultures. Since then, the field has evolved to encompass a vast body of methodologies and contexts, incorporating discussions of literature and history, and linking them to musical and theatre practices. As the field stands today, it is characterised by its eclecticism, even as it asserts its intrinsic value to Shakespeare studies more generally.

This symposium calls upon these diverse areas of expertise that make up the modern field to assist in identifying and developing strategies for the integration of music into productions of Shakespeare. We invite submissions from theatre and music practitioners, academics in literature, theatre, history and music studies, as well as postgraduate and undergraduate students, to contribute to this conversation. We impose no particular restrictions on paper topics, provided they are generally relevant to the field of Shakespeare and music studies. However, the following questions may act as a guide to submissions:

  • Cover of sheet music for Kiss me Kate
    Cole Porter’s take on The Taming of the Shrew

    Why should music be considered a priority in the production of Shakespeare?

  • How can an understanding of early-modern music practice be applied to modern theatre productions?
  • How can knowledge of modern musical practices be applied to the staging of Shakespeare?
  • What specific challenges do composers face when setting Shakespeare’s language to music?
  • What types of musical resources can small theatre companies employ when staging Shakespeare?
  • How can theatre directors employ music in audition, rehearsal and production processes?

NB – Since the symposium will be practice-focused, we are also interested in considering workshop sessions.

Some travel bursaries will be available for interstate or international scholars. All submitted papers will also be considered for inclusion in an edited volume.

Please submit an abstract or proposal of approximately 200 words to by 1st May 2016.

Musical notation for "hey ho the wind and the rain".
This song is noted for appearing in both Twelfth Night and King Lear.

Merry Wives in Perth

Three performances only, 16-18 February, Perth.

The University of Western Australia has an outdoor theatre built to the proportions of the Fortune Theatre, one of the public playhouses that operated in Early Modern London. Built by Philip Henslowe, the surviving documents detailing its specifications have been a treasure trove for theatre historians.

UWA uses the space for investigations into original practice, and for lively, fun, delicious productions. Next week only, you can catch Shakespeare’s most absolutely Elizabethan comedy performed there: The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Poster showing two women and a washing basket with a hand coming out.

Shakespeare Solos from the Guardian

As its contribution to the Shakespeare 400 commemorations, the Guardian has commissioned a wonderful series of videos from some of Britain’s greatest actors, delivering their favourite speeches from Shakespeare.

Shakespeare Solos is planned as an ongoing series, with the first six videos released on 1 February. Come back after you’ve watched them and tell us what you think are the best bits!