Varieties of Shakespeare: Podcasts

Papers presented at the University of Sydney, hosted by the EMLAC (Early Modern Literature and Culture) research group, on Wednesday 27 April 2016.

Line drawing of Shakespeare. Text: University of Sydney, Shakespeare 400

In an informal afternoon, presenters gave 10-15 minute pieces covering topics that show the variety of approaches to Shakespeare studies, historic, literary, educational, dramaturgical and where all these interests meet.

Huw Griffiths: “1616 and All That”

On the other great literary artist we should be commemorating, and how his work interacted with Shakespeare’s.

Kathy French: “Happy Shakespeare”

On what some of Shakespeare’s heroines do to earn their happiness.

Ursula Potter: “Shakespeare’s Daughters”

On fathers with growing daughters, and the unique perspective on parenting that appears in Shakespeare’s plays.

Kathryn Parker: “Shakespeare in Song”

How did the many ballads that appear in Shakespeare’s plays fit in with the contemporary culture of popular song?

Penny Gay: “Shakespeare in a Tent”

On what has distinguished the most exciting and vibrant periods of Shakespeare performance in Australia.

Anna Kamaralli: “Margaret of Anjou: a New Play by Shakespeare”

On performances of the script recently crafted by Liz Schafer and Philippa Kelly designed to centre the “Tiger’s heart wrapped in a woman’s hide” in her own story.

Liam Semler and Claire Hansen: “Shakespeare Reloaded: Shakeserendipity”.

Liam and Claire’s piece differs a little from the others in that they were presenting an online resource. For this reason the podcast is best listened to in conjunction with looking at their Shakespeare Reloaded website and its Shakeserendipity game.

Measure for Measure at UNSW

26-30 April, Sydney.

The students of NUTS (NSW University Theatrical Society) are staging a production of Measure for Measure, running one week only.

Here is a helpful video primer expertly crafted by the artists of the company:

This play speaks to many of our most pressing moral issues. Would you betray your principles to save someone you love? What do we do when the man with the power to save or condemn us is himself corrupt? And who will believe a woman who accuses a powerful man of sexual abuse?

Directed by Tess Sterland. 7pm Tuesday to Saturday, Studio One, on campus at UNSW, Kensington.

Full details here.

Silhouette drawing of nun with someone's hand over her moth and grasping her arm.

Deathday/Birthday/Everyday #Shakespeare Lives

Welcome to 23rd April, when quotes shall be quoted and toasts toasted. Time to remember less what is past than what continues to be there for us to use to make and remake stories for each other.

Statue of Shakespeare that stands outside the State Library of NSW.
The statue commissioned by Henry Gullett, who wanted Sydney to have a focus for commemorating Shakespeare.

Varieties of Shakespeare open to all

27 April, Sydney.

Varieties of Shakespeare

Next Wednesday the EMLAC (Early Modern Literature and Culture) Research Group and the English Department of the University of Sydney will host an afternoon of presentations discussing all kinds of lively aspects of our favourite dead person.

“You may not have noticed, but Shakespeare died 400 years ago. To commemorate this unfortunate turn of events, the English department is holding a rapid- fire two-hour seminar that will showcase a range of approaches to the man and his work currently being undertaken by people working in and around the Department of English. Come along to hear about everything from Shakespeare in Australia to Shakespeare in Prison; from a history play that he managed to write from beyond the grave, to some of the significances attached to the year of his death: 1616.”

DATE: Wednesday, 27 April

TIME: 12-2pm

PLACE: Room S226, John Woolley Building, University of Sydney


  • Huw Griffiths: “1616 and All That”
  • Kathy French, “Happy Shakespeare”
  • Ursula Potter, “Shakespeare’s Daughters”
  • Kathryn Parker, “Shakespeare in Song”
  • Penny Gay: “Shakespeare in Australia”
  • Anna Kamaralli: “Margaret of Anjou: Shakespeare’s ‘new’ Play”
  • Liam Semler and Claire Hansen: “Shakeserendipity”

Line drawing of Shakespeare. Text: University of Sydney, Shakespeare 400

There will be some light refreshments. All Welcome.

For further information, please contact Huw Griffiths ( or Liam Semler ( Full details here.

Playing the Shakespeare Game

From Sydney University, Professor Liam Semler’s wonderfully expansive project in Shakespeare education, which has been developing for years in association with Barker College, has just launched a new game-based collection of learning material.

Pencil sketch of skull.

It’s really worth spending some time on their Shakespeare Reloaded website, and reading up on the Shakeserendipity project. Both inspirational and practical, the project is a genuinely fresh take on ways to use Shakespeare in learning, and use the latest learning systems when working on Shakespeare.

There are three games, based around Julius Caesar, Richard III and The Tempest.

23rd April

The precise anniversary of Shakespeare’s death falls on April 23rd.

With remarkable convenience for commemorative purposes, this is also most likely his birthday. I say most likely because, while we have documentary evidence of his death, it was not births that got recorded in 16th century England, but baptisms, so we know that Shakespeare was baptised on Wednesday 26th April 1564, and baptisms usually happened roughly three days after birth.*

For a long time British historians were absurdly pleased about this date because it also happens to be St George’s Day, the commemorative day assigned to the patron saint of England. Odd as it seems, there was actually some fuss around when to commemorate the 300th anniversary of his death, with some suggesting the ‘real’ date would be 4th May, since Britain’s adoption of the Gregorian calendar, with its loss of 11 days, did not happen until 1752.

Printed page showing schedule of performances and text of poem "The Pen and the Sword".
From the commemorative programme of a Sydney fundraising performance. Original held by the State Library of NSW

In Australia the more noteworthy incident was that the 300th anniversary almost coincided with the first time ANZAC day was celebrated, on 25th April 1916. This turned events originally conceived as fundraisers for a Shakespeare memorial into fundraisers for the war effort. It did not dampen the enthusiasm for the events themselves, however. They merely morphed to incorporate the Aussie digger alongside Shakespeare, including patriotic tableaux, and a poem entitled “The Pen and the Sword” by Dulcie Deamer. It’s easy to laugh at the Edwardian jingoism of these efforts, but what comes through is the conviction of the participants that Shakespeare is there to be used – to be used by all, and in whatever way speaks to the needs of that moment. So perhaps not quite so different from our present attitude as we might think.

Shakespeare TwentyScore is not inclined to quibble about specific dates, nor about what kind of uses people find for Shakespeare. If there is one thing Shakespeare certainly learned from, and taught to, the world of theatre he helped create, it is that everything is fair game. We plan to celebrate in every way anyone can think of, and to do it all year.

* Bright yellow book cover showing cartoon of Shakespeare.For a more detailed look at this and other biographical details see Is It True What They Say About Shakespeare? by Stanley Wells. The packaging of this book makes it look dodgy as all get out, but it’s actually extremely solid, and Wells is probably the most venerable scholar of Shakespeare living today. Read Will Sharpe’s amusing review of this book in the Shakespeare Bookshop Newsletter.