The University of Adelaide and Silents Now are having a special screening of the Asta Neilsen Hamlet, accompanied by live, improvised music.
The first Hamlet ever to appear on film was Sarah Bernhardt, in a roughly ten minute piece designed to demonstrate the possibilities of film. The first full length feature film version of Hamlet also starred a woman as the Prince, Danish actress Asta Neilsen.
“To my mind there were just two geniuses of the silent film era: Asta and Chaplin. It is very hard for anyone now to conceive the huge scale of Asta’s personality in Germany. Wherever we went, even in the smallest towns, crowds immediately gathered round her.” – Sven Gade, Director of Hamlet, in The Screenplay of My Life (1941).
For those interested in the extensive, expansive history of actresses playing Hamlet, Women As Hamlet: Performance and Interpretation by Tony Howard details the whole story.
One chance only to get the Asta Neilsen experience, and see the first Hamlet feature film on the big screen.
“When the Shakespeare Tercentenary Memorial Fund was established in Sydney in 1912 … the goal of the organisation was to raise enough money for a fitting memorial to Shakespeare to be created by the date of the three-hundredth anniversary of his death, in April 1916. Upon the announcement of the formation of the fund, an anonymous woman wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald to speak of the enthusiasm and support the organisation could expect from Australian women: ‘Whatever work there is to do by which we women may show our gratitude and love and devotion to our Shakespeare, we only ask, do not spare us, let us work side by side with men. Our power and ability to work for a fitting memorial of a beloved idol are as great, our devotion to the cause no less.'”
This is an extract from an article I wrote for the online journal Australian Studies.
The research for this article about the way Australians commemorated the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death was only possible because of the remarkable capabilities of the Trove service, at the National Library of Australia. I was able to look up every column written about the Shakespeare Balls and other spectacular fundraising efforts, reported in minute detail in the Sydney newspapers from 1912 – 1916. I could do this at no charge, and without needing to travel to the Library in Canberra and ferret through their archives. This astonishing, useful, used resource is under threat from funding cuts, like so many other services supporting Australia’s intellectual and cultural life.
The idea of something that is already working so well, working for any Australian who cares to make use of it, and getting better all the time being curtailed is an unconscionable false economy.
The online journal for academics in a magazine-ish mood has a piece up from distinguished Shakespeare in Performance scholar Liz Schafer. It reflects on the work she has just been involved in in Perth, staging the Merry Wives of Windsor and Margaret of Anjou (noted previously on this site).
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.
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 (email@example.com)
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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
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 (email@example.com)
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:
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by 1st May 2016.
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.