Say happy birthday to Shakespeare

As you would already know, since you have been reading all our posts on this page, the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death is also his birthday. And that is next Saturday!

To celebrate, Melbourne filmmakers Shakespeare Republic are putting together a video, and they want you to join in. Make a “Happy Birthday Shakespeare” message and send it to them to be part of their special event.

See below image for text transcription.

Text reads: It’s nearly Shakespeare’s birthday, and Shakespeare Republic is celebrating! Send your ‘happy birthday Shakespeare’ video message of 15 seconds or less to by Wednesday April 20th, 2016 to be included in our birthday video and join the international party! Do you #LoveTheBard?

#Shakespeare400 Makes It To #QandA

For three and a half minutes.

I suspect that Sharman Stone actually knows very little about the way Shakespeare is taught in schools. Joseph Tawadros seemed vaguely irritated at being called upon to to praise an Anglophone white dude when there is a world full of literary artists of other ethnicities who don’t get fussed over, but he was too polite to say so explicitly. Lisa Singh’s unaffected enthusiasm was charming.

However you feel about Germaine Greer as a social and political commentator, her credentials as a historian are unassailable. And she does love her Shakespeare. I hope Tony Jones follows through on his impulsive suggestion.

Help the Pop-Up Globe stay up

Shakespeare performance in Auckland has been given an amazing boost with the appearance of the Pop-Up Globe.

Man and woman on stage, interior of pop-up Globe, with audience.
Performance of Hamlet by the Lord Lackbeards

Running performances from a whole range of companies since February, the theatre’s construction is based on years of research, from historians and theatre scholars including Associate Professor at Sydney University, Tim Fitzpatrick.

It is a wonderful tribute to what can be achieved with a combination of imagination, craft and passion.

Please go to the petition Keep the Pop-Up Globe and sign to help keep the Globe in operation.

Exterior of the Pop-Up Globe.

Coriolanus storms Melbourne

27 April – 8 May, Melbourne.

Heartstrings Theatre Company will perform an all-female Coriolanus, on the model of Phillida Lloyd’s Donmar Warehouse production of Henry V last year.

Shakespeare’s dynamic tale of Coriolanus takes us into a world where the Volscian Army marches on Rome, only for the warrior Coriolanus to drive them back. As the dust settles, though, she finds herself pressured into the snake pit that is political office. With famine threatening and jealous tribunes plotting against her, Coriolanus discovers that the will of people cannot be so easily beaten back with swords…

Company member and co-founder Jo Booth describes why projects like this are so vital:

“Shakespeare is open to interpretation, his work is never presented exactly as it was done in the 17th century. By casting women we aim to bring a new perspective to his words, and show women in a multidimensional light. Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare’s most masculine plays, and we’re exploring how women take on these qualities; rage, vulnerability, ferocity, and present them to a 2016 audience”

Directed by Grant Watson, this new telling of one of Shakespeare’s last tragedies takes a hyper-masculine world full of betrayal and deceit, and flips it on its head in a compelling reimagining.

At Metanoia Theatre, at the Mechanics’ Institute, Brunswick.

Full details here.

Group of 10 white women walking towards camera looking serious.
Heartstrings Company

Shrews Rule!

5-28 May, Sydney.

The Taming of the Shrew by Sport for Jove

Australia’s most consistently fresh and vigorous producers of Shakespeare are remounting their 2011 production of The Taming of the Shrew, directed by company founder Damien Ryan.

Although this is one of Shakespeare’s earlier and arguably less sophisticated comedies, its centring on a question that has obsessed our society for centuries: why the relationship between men and women should be assumed to be a struggle for dominance. The play itself is not solvable, nor offering a solution, but it does make us consider – are we at our best or our worst when we are forced to fight for our identity? Its charismatic lead roles and effervescent comedy mean we keep being tempted to return to the puzzle.

I’ll let the company itself explain the concept:

“Sport for Jove’s world-class production won unanimous critical acclaim in its 2011/12 outdoor Summer Festival Season, where it was nominated for 5 Sydney Theatre Awards including Best Independent Production, Actor, Actress, Director and Design. It also rained. Rained a lot… So we are removing the weather as a factor and remounting this hugely successful production of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew on the great Hollywood soundstages of the silent film era.

Shakespeare’s love stories challenge us very deeply. They tend to be models of disharmony and madness in which trust, patience and finally, hope, are only reached through chaos and pain. They are as troubling as they are funny, and as beautiful as they are disturbing. The Taming of the Shrew captures that paradox perfectly, among the most challenging, confronting and exuberant plays ever written.”

Woman with face smudged with dirt, wearing vintage aviator goggles.
May 5th – 7th at the Riverside Theatre Parramatta

May 19th – 28th at the Seymour Centre

The Death of Shakespeare

26 April, Adelaide.

Professors Ian Donaldson and Ian Gadd in a free public lecture at the University of Adelaide on the topic “The Death of Shakespeare”, that will also include a musical performance.

At the time of his death on 23 April1616 Shakespeare was far from a celebrity. Beyond the country town of Stratford where he had been born and now was buried, his death appears to have occasioned little interest or attention. None of his fellow-poets chose to mourn his passing; no gatherings in his honour were held; no contemporary references to his death have survived. Why did the final exit of the man now acclaimed as the world’s most famous writer not attract more resounding applause? How was Shakespeare’s reputation established in the years after his death? How did his fame spread–through Europe, the British Empire, globally?

Speaker: Emeritus Professor Ian Donaldson, University of Melbourne
Response: Professor Ian Gadd, Bath Spa University
Musical Performance: Adelaide Baroque (Emma Horwood, Soprano; Anne Gardiner, Harpsichord; Graham Strahle, Viola da amba; Jayne Varnish, Recorders)
Chair: Dr Lucy Potter, The University of Adelaide

Full details here.

Merry Wives are more and merrier

19 April – 1 May, Melbourne.

The production of The Merry Wives of Windsor seen earlier this year in Perth will soon open in Melbourne at theatre fortyfivedownstairs.

As a bonus, on 23 April, the show’s Director, Rob Conkie, will launch his new book, Writing Performative Shakespeares: New Forms for Performance Criticism (Cambridge University Press, 2016) at the venue.  The launch is at 3:30pm, followed by an art exhibition by Bernard Caleo of drawings of the rehearsal process of The Merry Wives of Windsor at 4:30pm and an exhibition talk: ‘Drawing and rehearsing The Merry Wives’ at 5:30pm, before the show begins at 7.30.

Full details of the production here.

Flyer showing two laughing women, with text details of production, as described above.

Shakespeare Screenings at the State Library

In conjunction Australia’s Silent Film Festival, the State Library of NSW has a number of screenings of early and popular Shakespeare films coming up.

Friday 15 April: Shakespeare Silent Films performed with a live soundtrack. Tickets $30/$25 Drinks and nibbles from 5.30pm-6.15pm in Dixson Room. Films start at 6.15pm. Richard III (1912) 59 minutes and Bromo and Juliet (1926) 24 minutes

Album cover of songs from film Kiss Me Kate.In addition, there is the Shakespeare and the Silver Screen series, Sundays at 2pm:

10 April – Kiss Me Kate The Cole Porter musical adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew

17 April – Richard III The Laurence Olivier version

24 April – Chimes at Midnight The Orson Welles version of Henry IV

Tickets via the State Library website.


Shakespeare for Shorties at the State Library

Wednesdays starting 6 April, Sydney.

Outside signage: State Library NSWThe State Library of NSW is offering a fun morning session for little ones, introducing them to Shakespeare’s language.

Children’s books, making finger puppets and balloon swords all feature.

Designed for children aged under 5. Meeting at the Macquarie Street foyer at 10.30am. Free, and no bookings required, except for groups of 10 or more.

Full details here.

For bigger kids (8-12 years) there is a mask making workshop, with some discussion about how masks have been used in theatre, on Tuesday 12 April, 10am. Cost $20, bookings essential.

Full details here.