Category Archives: history

Looking forward

This website was created because of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Events to mark the date were taking place all around the world, and so it felt important that Australia have some place to go where people could find out what was happening near them or get ideas for things to do. I also wanted it to survive as a record of what happened throughout this year, in case anyone in the future is curious.

Of course, Shakespeare never stops, so despite the anniversary year having concluded there is lots more going on, looking ahead. Productions of Shakespeare to look forward to next year include…

Right now Sport for Jove are doing Julius Caesar and the much less often performed Antony and Cleopatra, in rep.

Genesian Theatre is about to open Much Ado About Nothing.

NUTS (the University of NSW Theatrical Society) will be opening their season with The Tempest in March.

Bard on the Beach will soon be opening Romeo and Juliet and The Merry Wives of Windsor in rep.

Melbourne Theatre Company has included a production of Macbeth in their subscription season.

MOST excitingly, The Puzzle Collective’s SuperHal!: the superhero origin story of Henry V will be swooping in in March (in the meantime you can come to the fundraiser Shakespeare Cosplay Cabaret on 28 January at the Red Rattler).

B&W text: A Grand Spectacular Pageant Ball.
Advertisement for the 1914 Shakespeare Ball

And there are bound to be many more. Artists will always continue to perform Shakespeare, because the work will continue to give us the expression we need of our most intense experiences of being human.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me contributions to this site over the course of the year. The site will no longer be updated, but will remain up so the links and resources stay active, and I hope also to act as an archive of what went on throughout this year in Australasia. Our Facebook page will stay available whenever anyone wants to share comments or events.

The breadth and variety of shows and events this past year, to which our nearly 100 posts stand testament, are proof of the passion and ingenuity of the many people in Australia and New Zealand who use Shakespeare’s work as a conduit for the things we feel driven to say. It has been a pleasure and privilege to watch.

Young white man and young black woman lie on grass holding a skull between them.

Thoughts on Henry V

22 November, Canberra

Public Seminar at the ANU:

“Making Memories: Performing Research on Henry V in Australia”

Leaders in scholarship on Shakespeare in the theatre, Dr Kate Flaherty (ANU) and Dr Rob Conkie (La Trobe) are joining to speak on Australia’s engagement with Shakespeare’s Henry V in performance, as a commentary on war, on nation and on history.

“When the first ANZAC Day (25 April 1916) collided with the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (23 April 1916), a special kind of challenge was issued to the Australian commemorative calendar. To this day productions of Henry V still bear traces of the ways in which the newly federated nation met this challenge. From a newsreel of a ‘Shakespeare in the Schools’ on the steps of the ANZAC memorial in 1955, to the 1995 Bell Shakespeare production featuring ‘diggers’, to the 2014 Bell production which couched its meditation of war politics in the context of the London blitz, Australian treatments of the play map a specifically Australian politics of war remembrance.”

On campus at ANU, Tuesday 22 November, 4.15 – 5.30pm, Humanities Research Centre Conference Room.

No charge, all welcome, light refreshments provided.

Making Memories

Group of 1940s schoolchildren and teachers gathered around a book.
A scene from the 2015 Bell Shakespeare production of Henry V

Shakespeare Day at Notre Dame

9 November, Sydney

The University of Notre Dame, Sydney is hosting a full day of presentations showcasing their engagement with this anniversary year. Two special parts of that are open to the public, and all who are interested are warmly invited to attend.

There will be a 1pm keynote address by Professor Chris Wortham on Shakespeare’s Maps, and students will be performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Notre Dame Theatre at 4.30pm, which will be followed by a reception.

The campus is on the corner of Abercrombie Street and Broadway in Chippendale and is very easy to find. There is no charge, and no need to book.

You can read more about the ideas behind the day and, what went on, here.

Event details in PDF form, as listed above, also biog and picture of Prof. Wortham.
Programme of events for the day

Shakespeare and SUDS

Edward Furst has put together the whole story of the University of Sydney’s history of staging Shakespeare. Also offering a brief history of the Sydney University Dramatic Society (SUDS), photos and all, it’s well worth the read. But what is this about abandoning a production of Macbeth due to a shortage of male actors? I’m sure they must have had women who would have stepped into the breeches!

Shakespeare’s Timeless Legacy at Sydney University

Poster showing bloodied female hands. Text: LADY "call me what you will"
SUDS has staged both original texts, and adaptations and reworkings like this one

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.

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.