Blackfriars Conference 2015 — Liveblogging Masterlist

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Photo by Miscellaneous Media Photography

Wednesday, 10/28
Wake-Up Workshop: Cue Scripts
Colloquy I: Audience and the Actor
Colloquy II: History Plays
Colloquy III: Cultural Appropriation
Colloquy IV: Bilingual Shakespeare
Colloquy V: Asides and Villiany
Colloquy VI: Shakespeare’s Life and Times: Contributing Context
Welcome and Keynote Address: Paul Prescott: The Life, Adventures, and Opinions of Sam Wanamaker
Plenary I: Lars Engle, Alice Dailey, Amy Grubbs, Richard Priess, Tiffany Stern, James Keegan
Plenary II: Anthony Patricia, Stephen Purcell, Nick Hutchison, Jess Hamlet, Sid Ray, Catherine Loomis
Plenary III: Jeanne McCarthy, Ann Thompson, Kerry Cooke, Shannon Kelley, Sarah Neville, Paige Reynolds

Thursday, 10/29
Wake-Up Workshop: ROADS to Rhetoric
Plenary IV: Jesse Chu, Lauren Shepherd, Sarah B T Thiel, Claire Bourne, Claire Kimball
Keynote Address: Ayanna Thompson: Reading Backwards from Morrison to Shakespeare: Desdemona/Othello
Lunch and Learn: Meet and Drink with MBC Shakespeare and Performance
Plenary V: Elizabeth Sharret, Jeremy Lopez, James Seth, Nell McKeown and Stephanie Donowho, William Proctor Williams, Peter Kanelos
Plenary VI: Amanda Zoch, Bob Jones, Dan Venning, Melissa Aaron, Patrick Midgley, Matt Kozusko
Staging Session: Caroline Latta and Kevin Quarmby

Friday, 10/30
Wake-Up Workshop: Textual Variants
Colloquy VIII: Practical Rhetoric
Colloquy XIII: Magic in the Early Modern Stage
Colloquy XIV: Political Wisdom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Antony and Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale, and 1 Henry VI
Colloquy XV: Mediating Music in Middleton’s The Witch
Keynote Address: Gina Bloom
: Every Body Can Act: Reclaiming Histrionic Gesture through the Digital Theatre Game Play the Knave
Honorific for Barbara Mowat
Plenary VII: Joseph Stephenson, Patricia Wareh, Katherine Schaap Williams, Peter Hyland, Julie Simon, Gretchen Minton
Staging Session: Tina Packer and James Loehlin
Plenary VIII: Neil Vallelly, Holly Pickett, Musa Gurnis, Marie Knowlton, Adam Zucker, Jennifer Holl

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Photo by Miscellaneous Media Photography

Saturday, 10/31
Wake-Up Workshop: Audience Contact
Plenary IX: Danielle Rosvally, Niamh O’Leary, Zoe Hudson, Thomas Ward, Genevieve Love, Spencer K Wall
Keynote Address: Tim Carroll: Confessions of an Iambic Fundamentalist
Lunch and Learn: Masters of the Space
Plenary X: Maryam Zomorodian, Katherine Mayberry, Nova Myhill, Michael Wagoner, Adam Miller-Batteau
Plenary XI: Abigail Montgomery, Alan Armstrong, Steven Urkowitz, Travis Curtwright, Eric M. Johnson, Don Hedrick

Sunday, 11/1
Colloquy XVII: Teaching Shakespeare as an Integrated Process
Colloquy XVIII: Shakespeare’s Blackfriars Playhouse: The Study, the Stage, and the Classroom
Colloquy XIX: Staging Questions with Actors
Brunch and Buck Fizzies: The Body’s Knowledge
Scenes from Tate’s LEAR: Scholar/Practitioner Collaboration with Tiffany Stern and Hidden Room Theatre

A Special Note from ASC Director of Education Sarah Enloe

Blogger Bios

Blackfriars Conference 2015 — Scenes from Tate’s LEAR: Scholar/Practitioner Collaboration with Tiffany Stern and Hidden Room Theatre

Mary Baldwin College Shakespeare & Performance Director Paul Menzer introduced Tiffany Stern of Oxford University to speak of her work on Tate’s Restoration Version of Shakespeare’s “King Lear.”  In her brief introduction to the Hidden Room Theatre’s performance on the Blackfriars Playhouse stage, Professor Stern explained to the audience that her work includes both scholarly study as well as that of study in performance.

Nahum Tate undertook his adaptation of “King Lear” in 1681, Professor Stern informed her listeners, because he found Shakespeare’s tragedy “too tragic and upsetting” for his audience.  He removed the character of the Fool from the play for being “vulgar.”  He sanitized motivations and actions in Shakespeare’s play and “cleaned up” the verse, to make it “beautiful” in accordance with his aesthetic and puritanical values.   His version held sway on the stage over Shakespeare’s original “Lear” for one hundred and fifty years. This bowdlerized version is the one that made America take to Shakespeare in the first place, Professor Stern informed her audience.  She added jovially, “So, remember that!”

Restoration movement has a very different feel from Early Modern Theater, Professor Stern continued. It sought for an “elegant, beautiful” performance style in an effort to edify the audience. She relied upon illustrations of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century gestures, paintings and drawings for her research. The audience would get to see these gestures in practice momentarily.  Nahum Tate’s practices and his “improved” version raise a number of questions concerning adaptation, both of “Lear” and other Early Modern dramatic works as well as those of other periods and styles.

Professor Stern then introduced the Hidden Room Theatre Company in a dress rehearsal performance of Tate’s version of “Lear.” She qualified what her audience would witness presently with a kind of apologia: “This is a skeleton crew,” of the full company production, she explained, shortly before the troupe of Restoration period-costumed actors took the stage.  Each costume was elaborate and meticulous in detail, creating spectacle which, along with the Hidden Theatre Company’s recreation of mannered performances including detailed hand gestures, faithfully represented a late Seventeenth Century theatrical experience for today’s audience.

The Hidden Room Theatre Company’s performance lasted approximately forty-five minutes and included selected scenes from Tate’s “King Lear.”  Professor Stern introduced each scene, telling her audience briefly what had transpired between scenes, helping to set the stage for the next one.  After the performance concluded, there followed a ‘Meet the Actors’ session upstairs in the Cutaia Lounge.

–Bill Leavy

Blackfriars Conference 2015: Brunch and Buck Fizzes: “The Body’s Knowledge: Merging Multiple Ways of Knowing in Shakespeare’s Plays”

Following Sunday Brunch, Dr. Ralph Alan Cohen of the American Shakespeare Centerand Mary Baldwin College Shakespeare & Performance introduced Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Company to speak about what she termed as “body knowledge” in performing Shakespeare.  Professor Packer began her presentation by leading the audience of conference attendees in a breathing exercise, instructing them to engage in breathing with “the whole of your body.” She then had her audience members take their pulses and count the number of pulses per individual breath.  The most common response from individual audience members was five heartbeats per breath.  She likened that ratio to that of iambic pentameter in a line of verse. “Iambic Pentameter is an extension of what we do in our natural state,” Professor Packer informed her listeners.  “Your body is who you are.  You are impulse with an “im-” in front of (your pulse).”  She then advised her listeners, “Remember the intelligence behind every figure of speech.”

Professor Packer applied her insights to the plays overall: “The power of the story lies in what’s going on with the storyteller or with the actor,” she said.  “The line endings in a speech reveal the speaker’s psychological development.”  Perhaps in reply to Professor Tim Carroll, Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival’s keynote address conference on the subject of Iambic Fundamentalism the day before, in which Carroll stressed that in Shakespeare as in public speaking, the speaker should not, as a matter of form, stress ‘I’ or ‘me,’ Packer in contrast, gave actors the green light to hitting ‘I’ and ‘me’ in a line as long as actors also follows up those first person descriptions by hitting the active verb in the same lines in which they appear.  She also gave a key piece of advice to actors: “To hell with the operative words!”

Professor Packer then introduced ASC actors Sarah Fallon and Allison Glenzer to play a scene from “Othello.” She set the stage by discussing how Othello’s and Desdemona’s bed sheets symbolized the couple’s (interrupted) Wedding Night.  Othello and Desdemona could not consummate their marriage on their Wedding Night, she said, because Cassio’s brawl which opens the play prevented such an event from taking place.  She then directed Glenzer, playing Othello, to slap Fallon, playing Desdemona.  Fallon’s Desdemona cried out in pain when Glenzer’s Othello struck her.  Immediately, Professor Packer surveyed the audience and asked for its response to what it just witnessed.  Several members of the audience expressed that they “felt” Desdemona’s cry of pain instead of simply having heard it.  Packer explained, “The visceral response is in the body.” She continued, “You have to get to the form before you can ever get to the content, and in Shakespeare, the silences are in the audience’s body as well as those which the actors express.”  Professor Packer elaborated how Shakespeare in his later works began to shift the characters’ emotional feeling behind the words, as well as how the line of dialogue sounded to an audience. The actor shifts the thought, intellectually and emotionally, she concluded.

Bill Leavy

Blackfriars Conference 2015 – Colloquy Session XVIII: Shakespeare’s Blackfriars Playhouse: The Study, the Stage, and the Classroom

This is Merlyn Q. Sell blogging Colloquy Session XVIII from the Blue Ridge Room at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel running from 9-10:15am.  This session is chaired by Bryan Herek.  The presenters are Jim Casey, Annalisa Castaldo, Sarah Enloe, Fiona Harris-Ramsby, Kate McPherson, and Rhonda Knight.

Before the session formally starts the presenters are engaged in a discussion of Lia Razak Wallace’s work presented earlier this work regarding the science of eye-contact between performers and audience.  Clearly Wallace’s ideas have generated a lot of excitement among conference attendees.

Herek begins by saying that today’s colloquy is a reunion of sorts for those that attended the summer 2008 NEH Institute.  There were twenty participants that included high school and college teachers.  The focus of the five week intensive was Shakespeare in the classroom.  Participants cut Antony and Cleopatra, split it into eight parts which were rehearsed in teams with ASC actors and culminated in a tag team performance.  The rigorous schedule included classes every day in the Blackfriars and the opportunity to repeatedly see the ASC productions at the time.  The Institute enriched the participants’ teaching and even resulted in McPherson’s students began an original practices company in Utah.  Knight returned to ASC for a sabbatical later on and has continually found the actor’s renaissance season style to be particularly useful in reaching her students.  Enloe stresses that providing a time constraint and the rules of original practices explodes creativity in students.  Herek finds that introducing the idea of solving “the puzzle” of particular staging moments allows students to forget the weight of Shakespeare and comprehend one individual moment and have tools to take on the next moment.  The presenters are all in agreement that having props on hand is essential to awaking students to the possibilities of the text.  Castaldo’s student body is made up primarily of engineering students and others who are taking the class for a GE requirement and aren’t able to devote the time out of class necessary to actually attempt a full performance themselves.  However, seeing the ASC renaissance season was equally fruitful for her students in linking the page to the stage.  Casey has always been invested in close reading and a focus on the text.  He finds cue scripts to be a very valuable teaching tool, though admittedly that is greatly dependent on the students.  There is a consensus among the panelists that performance in the classroom frequently fails but when it is successful it opens up the text in unique ways.

Herek stresses the significance of the pre-show music in a production.  During the Institute Herek had championed the participants to include a music pre-show in their production as well.  He’s continued to champion the pre-show with his students by not allowing them to stew backstage before performance.  He finds that the pre-show sets an environment that is key to connecting Shakespeare to things that are more familiar to his students.

McPherson and her students also took Shakespeare into the juvenile justice system.  Her students cut the scripts down to sixty minutes and they were then performed by the incarcerated boys.  McPherson and her students had to overcome the boys’ reluctance to cross-gendered casting but they frequently saw some really wonderful moments.

Herek mentions Ralph Alan Cohen’s book as being necessary as a touchstone to recall what they experienced so intensely at the Institute.  McPherson found the experience to be as exhausting as the conference but five times as long.

Casey points out the growth in his scholarship since the Institute and how it provided a focus for his work and created valued connections within the group.  McPherson shares that her first published article grew out of the work at the Institute.  Castaldo is currently working on a book about magic on the early modern stage and she has found that she is now able to include questions of staging in that work.  Enloe mentions the habit of “reading for the stage” is created by working within performance.

McPherson finds that her work has become infinitely more collaborative since this intensive.  Enloe reminds the group how impossible it would have been to complete the Institute’s tasks individually and that collaboration was a requirement to succeed.  Herek agrees that collaboration is also key to his work.  He also stresses the value of the network that was created by the Institute and how warm the extended Blackfriars community has been.  Casey agrees that he had previously found it very difficult to collaborate but since the institute he has published two collaborative articles and has many other collaborative projects in the work.

Enloe says they only had two days to cut Antony and Cleopatra, which Herek found it very difficult.  There was a lot of dissension within the groups regarding the cut.  Castillo says she ultimately took their script and cut it herself so that decisions were made by the deadline.  The cut had to follow ASC’s rules regarding cuts: 1. Liposuction not amputation. 2. Can’t cut entire scenes. 3. Can’t cut entire characters.  Herek  walked away from the process with a greater understanding of the purpose of comedy within tragic plays.  He finds that the comedy is also a great hook for students as well.  Enloe correctly guesses that he worked with  ASC actor John Harrell in the intensive.

Knight recalls a session taught by Roz Knutson wherein they were tasked with writing a scene based solely on the title of a lost play.  These scenes were eventually performed.  In this instance, Knight found that again it was important to trust the people that had the idea and make a decision.  Everyone agrees that once a decision is made you can move forward much easier.

Castaldo has found the tools learned at the Institute is particularly empowering for students, especially those who are afraid of Shakespeare.  The original practices staging, the cue scripts, and a specified end goal has given the students control of the work instead of merely reading.  Casey points out how it also awakes for students the idea that there are multiple solutions to any staging problem.

Enloe requests some more information as to what the pedagogical purpose of exercises like Knutson’s might be.  Knight found that the exercise allowed them to apply the knowledge they already had of original staging practices.  It provided an outlet for creativity and made students aware that there are many plays we no longer have.  Herek says that these techniques have become a model he uses when discussing teaching.  Enloe suggests that these types of exercises do more than simply teach Shakespeare, they also teach collaboration and creativity.  There are many skills required in a renaissance style production are applicable in many avenues outside of performance and Shakespeare.  Casey concurs, noting that these skills are the exact things currently being sought by employers.

Colloquy Session XIX: Staging Questions with Actors

Good morning everyone, Liz back here for the last time this year to live-blog Colloquy Session XIX: Staging Queeestions with Actors. Live blogging of this session will run from nine to ten fifteen in the morning on the Blackfriars Playhouse Stage. The chair for this session is Cassie Ash. The presenters are Rebecca Bailey and Julia Griffin. Actors for this session are part of the American Shakespeare Center Dangerous Dreams Tour Tim Sailer, Cordell Cole, Jessica Lefkow, Chris Bellinger, Andrew Goldwasser, and Aleca Piper.

Ash welcomes everyone and thanks them for their presence this morning. She introduces Griffin and Bailey and hands the stage to Griffin.

Griffin says that standing on the stage is amazing and talks about AC Badley’s amazing Shakespearean Tragedy. She talks about note thirty one, “He has no children.” This refers to Macduff’s line in Macbeth. This could refer to Malcolm who, having no children, can announce this deed, to Macbeth who has no child, so Macduff cannot take adequate revenge, or to Macbeth who if he has children would not ask for Macduff’s children to be killed. There is debate that Macduff could not say this to Malcolm because that would be a direct retort and rude. In Shakespeare’s play, Macduff expresses both grief and vengefulness is future lines, so the challenge is to try to decide which emotion influences the line, “He has no children.” For an actor, this is difficult because an actor must make a choice.

Griffin states that she believes, as Bradley, that the line refers to Malcolm. She then introduces that the actors will perform the scene in three ways: with Macduff being heartless, as a direct retort to Malcolm, and as a reference to Macbeth. Goldwasser as Macduff, Cole as Rosse, and Sailer as Malcolm jump up to do the scene three times.

Griffin states that she does not know how the actors do what they do, to which Goldwasser replies, “At nine A.M.” Griffin states that she expected to have to ask questions to clarify the differences between each staging, but acknowledges that the actors did a great job. She states that Goldwasser put more anger when directing the line to Malcolm than she expected. Griffin then turns to the audience and asks what they noticed. Purcell, in the audience, states that Macduff’s lines following all seem to make more sense if Macduff directs the line to Malcolm – especially since Macduff “was cross” with Malcolm earlier in the scene. Purcell states that this session showed him how all three interpretations can work to make a different show.

Griffin then reads an interpretation by a novelist.

We move on to Bailey, who focuses on embodying the humors using Laban technique. She introduces the four humors: black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood. She hopes to find an approachable method to use these early modern ideas through modern techniques that many actors are familiar with.

Bailey states that she chose Laban’s movement because he focused on both performance and everyday life. She believes that this will help actors perform the movements of everyday people. She will work with the actors on weight, time, space, and flow. She will have the actors choose along the continuum of Laban to help create characters to make the humors embodied for actors today. She clarifies and further explains the continuum upon which the humors and exist and which actors can access.

Bailey states that we will work on Viola and Falstaff, who are both closely connected to the humors. Lefkow jumps up to portray Viola, who is represented as sanguine with an excess of blood, which is hot and moist and connected to air. Bailey wants to look at Laban’s elements and the elements connected to the humors. She tells Lefkow that Viola is flexible, light, sustained, and free. She encourages Lefkow to embody these choices in her movement and voice. Lefkow them performs Viola.

Bailey then asks Lefkow to perform Viola with the opposite choices on the continuum, with a direct, strong, quick, and bound Viola, to see if the interpretation fights the text. Lefkow jumps right to it.

Purcell asked to have Lefkow perform Viola as melancholy. Another scholar in the audience states that he prefers the second choice for Viola, due to Viola’s first scene in the play’s text.

Bailey has Lefkow be direct, bound, sustained, and strong as a melancholy Viola, per Purcell’s request. Lefkow jumps in and restarts, acknowledging that she must start in a different place and that she has not had her coffee yet this morning. Purcell states that this is the Viola that he likes because this Viola was bittersweet, and he sees Twelfth Night as a bittersweet play. Ash jumps in to state that she enjoys how Lefkow’s third melancholic performance helped illustrate the quoting of another character in the same humor.

Bailey introduces Bellinger as Falstaff. Falstaff is referenced as a phlegmatic character. For example, Hal states that Falstaff sleeps until noon, but phlegmatic characters’ hours started at three in the afternoon. Thus, many humoral elements are explained within the text. Phlegm is connected with water, which is flexible, strong, sustained, and free. Bellinger then gets up to perform a Falstaff monologue.

Bailey then chooses to the stage the monologue again with Bellinger playing the opposite choices as Falstaff: direct, light, quick, and bound. Bellinger takes the direction and performs.

Cass Morris then points out that the main element that she feels is set for Falstaff is time. She feels that Falstaff must be sustained and not quick, but that the other elements seem flexible.

In response to a scholar’s comment, Bailey acknowledges that characters gravitate towards a certain humor, rather than playing the humor all of the time. Ash jumps in to point out that the flow element is about the ability to change into motion or non-motion in performance, rather than constantly moving or not moving.

Goldwasser points out that even within the line, an actor can change any of the elements. He also points out that each element can also describe either space, movement, or voice – or any other aspect of performance.

Bailey acknowledges that this staging session will help her to see the overlaps or exclusivity of the humors and the different elements.

Lefkow explains her personal thoughts on Laban and the humors. She believes that Laban is a great method to use and believes that ever actor is different and will use the technique differently and have different viewpoints.

Another scholar points out that different elements like water and earth take on different forms, like ice, vapor, rock, and soil. She wonders how these can inform the actors and their choices.

Griffin takes the stage again to look at IV.iii. from Julius Caesar. She wants to look at this scene to see if this scene is a textual error that was not supposed to repeat the news of Portia’s death, that Brutus must have this conversation again because of Massala, or that Brutus benefits from revealing the new of Portia’s death twice. Griffin has Goldwasser (Brutus), Cole (Massala), and Sailer (Cassius) come perform the scene with each of the three interpretations for the audience.

The actors speak about what they liked and found easier to perform. Bellinger questions if Cassius can support Brutus in all of these interpretations, especially given Cassius’ character in the play.

Griffin believes that the first staging of this scene allows Brutus to be a sympathetic character. The actors then ask questions to Griffin.

Ash ends the session by thanking the actors and presenters.

Thank you all for allowing me to be your live blogger this week – it was a blast!

Blackfriars Conference 2015 — Colloquy XVII: Teaching Shakespeare as an Integrated Process

Heidi Snow of Principia College chaired the colloquy session on pedagogy which included presenters Chrissy Calkins Steele, also with Principia College, and Alicia Huber, an independent scholar.  Three Principia students, Anna, Kelsey and Nathalie would be presenting their papers, Professor Snow informed her session participants, and she also announced her  intention to open up the floor to expand the conversation to encompass everyone in the room.

Mary Baldwin College Shakespeare & Performance alumna Alica Huber was the first to present after the Chair’s introduction, discussing how pedagogy relates to a subject she teaches to undergraduates, Theater History.  She told the session’s group that she meets many faculty members at the university where she is an Adjunct Professor who are skeptical of the need to teach Theater History.  She then projected a slide which read, “Theater History: We can Do Better.  Let’s science on pedagogy.”  She related a personal anecdote of a student show she directed which, although a modern play, incorporated elements of classical Greek Tragedy.  She expressed her student actors’ antipathy towards the subject she teaches even though, she noted, they enjoyed performing in the play.  She researched through Rosetta Stone the subject of adult pedagogy, the science of how adults learn.  She recommended three books, the first of which was Ken Bain’s, “What the Best College Teachers Do.”  Daniel Willingham is the author of the second book she recommended, “Why Students Don’t Like School?”  The third book Huber named was,  “The Absorbent Mind” by Maria Montessori.  “We teach Theater History via the traditional “Sage on the Stage” model,” or, fact dissemination, which is largely ineffective and is not engaging, she contended.

“The process is what’s interesting,” Huber continued: “Pull back the curtain on the process.”  How do Theater History teachers and educators find engaging and thought-provoking questions to begin with? she asked.  The student, she explained, may not know much history, theater history or in general, but they usually know something about theater itself.  She begins teaching her course by asking her students, “What is theater?”  Huber then read a paper from one of her students she had taught who expressed in her answer that in thinking about her definition of theater, as she wrote her paper, the student began to ask herself deeper questions, and ultimately confessed that the more she thought about it, the less and less sure she knew what theater was.

Textbooks, Huber explained, contain “received expertise.”  She projected then a slide reading, “We must empower our student to become experts.”  How do we know what we know? she asked.  Much of our understanding of Early Modern Theater is from the attempted reconstruction based on what little evidence still exists today.  She then recommended, “Let’s not learn history, let’s learn to be historians.”  Evidence comes first.  She teaches history with such evidence including texts, physical evidence which she presents to her class in the form of photos of Hellenic Theater at Epidaurus, and she also utilizes movie clips to help frame her textbook chapter readings.  She encourages her students to challenge what they read in the textbook after she has presented them with historical evidence in the classroom.

People learn by doing, Huber continued. Students learn to become critics in her class.  She stated she is committed to learning in a studio space: How can teachers create an environment in which the students themselves can make discoveries?  “Discovery is the best teacher,” she explained.  Huber comes from a background rooted in laboratory research, referring to her work with Rosetta Stone while she completed her M.Litt degree. She conducts experiments in her class with masks.  She informed the members of the session, that Chinese Theater Works, NYC, and The Greek Theater at Randolph College, in addition to The Blackfriars Playhouse, also incorporate original practices.  We must remember that Theater History is a narrative because people love stories, she stated in conclusion.

The Chair next proceeded to discuss the study abroad program she and her colleague Chrissy lead, “Shakespeare’s England”  The course includes seven-and-a-half weeks of students engaging in research at the Globe Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, and also with the Lake District.  The course proceeds with another seven-and-a-half weeks on campus where students put on a full play.  The campus course students take are, Cultural Studies, Acting Shakespeare, Shakespeare in England, History of English Drama, and Voice for the Actor.  Students create artistic journals.  Professor Snow called upon her student Anna to display her artwork which she produced in class.  Her student Anna also displayed the theater program she worked on.  Professor Snow stated she uses Wordsworth Trust for teaching primary source material.  She said that she has her students conduct research at the British Museum as well, including making use of the Museum’s Rare Book Room.  Two weeks at the Globe follow this research, and there students learn movement, work with the text, and learn about costumes.  And of course, Snow, informed the group. students also view Globe productions.  Her students then design what they are going to teach as schoolteachers to their pupils.

Anna next presented her paper, “How to Handle Old Books and Papers,” providing the student perspective.  She wrote an in-depth dramaturgical paper on jailers in “The Winter’s Tale” which she researched at the British Museum.  Her paper addressed the question, “How does the jailer’s depiction in Shakespeare’s play vary from what we know from recorded evidence about how jailers behaved in real life?”

Next to present her paper was Kelsey, a Senior at Principia, who played Paulina in the student production of “The Winter’s Tale”  She read what she’d written about her experience at The Globe and of the Birthplace Trust.  The latter resource is the recipient of the Royal Shakespeare Company archives.  “There isn’t one answer,” she said she learned.  Shakespeare’s Globe Education Center Director Michael Gold immerse the students in Shakespeare’s language.  “Why the play’s character might be off-balance, she explained, “iambic study reveals clues to such characters.”

Nathalie, also a Principia student who went through the same Shakespeare course with her fellow actors Anna and Kelsey, read her paper on her course experience.  All three students then performed a scene from “The Winter’s Tale,” demonstrating for session attendees how much they had learned in the study abroad course.

The Chair then concluded the session by opening up the floor for questions.

Bill Leavy

Paper Session X

Good afternoon, Liz here to live blog Paper Session X! This blog will be updated live from one to two fifteen this afternoon. The moderator of this session is Ann Jennalie Cook of Vanderbilt University. This plenary includes presentations by Maryam Zomorodian of the University of Notre Dame, Katherine Mayberry of Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company and Grand Valley State University, Nova Myhill of New College of Florida, Michael M. Wagoner of Florida State University, and independent scholar Adam Miller-Batteau.

Cook begins by applauding for the Masquerade Ball tonight. She then introduces the presenters.

Maryam Zomorodian – ‘As if the Personator were the man Personated’: Theatricality in Ford’s Perkin Warbeck

Zomorodian clarifies that this presentation focuses on John Ford’s The Chronicle History of Perkin Warbeck. She gives a brief history of Warbeck and his connections with Richard II and his ultimate deposition for King Henry VII. Ford used The True and Wonderful History of Perkin Warbeck from 1614 and a 1622 story of Perkin Warbeck as base texts to learn the history for the story. Even with base texts, Ford deviates from his predecessor texts by not portraying  Warbeck as a deceitful performer or pretender to the throne. Instead, Ford has his Warbeck be a performer under scrutiny and judgment, but in how persuadingly he plays the royal prince. Zomorodian describes Warbeck as the quintessential performer, but with constancy and virtue. She points out that Warbeck does not seem to have hidden motives or a confession of confirmed guilt. Warbeck is a good actor who goes to his death “without another chronicle than truth.” Zomorodian states that Warbeck seems constant and virtuous in his portrayal until death.

At the time that Ford wrote Perkin Warbeck, history plays were out of fashion. Ford saw his play as a part of growing history tradition of history as a theatrical account. This historical theatrical account was not to be read about, but rather found through the actors themselves discoursing. This places the historical account always in the present, always happening.

With the rise of print culture, personation clearly had a peculiar quality. Zomorodian speaks of a unique live-ness of theatre in print – inferior, however, to live theatre. For example, Thomas Nash compares English heroes entombed in books to those alive on stage. Zomorodian points out Keegan’s performance in ASC’s Joan of Arc to see Talbot fresh bleeding every night in performance – occurring live each night before the audience’s eyes. Thomas Heywood, likewise, looks with wonder on actors performing fresh each time too. Zomorodian mentions that anti-theatrical writers of the time also talk about deception and moral corruption in stage work and scripts; however, she points out that critics would judge printed plays and staged plays differently.

Zomorodian speaks of the double act of personation in an actor playing a character who acts, as the actor portraying Warbeck does in Perkin Warbeck. She states that Warbeck seems like a tragic hero with courage redefining his execution. Warbeck gives a rousing speech before his dramatic death, and then Henry VII comes out onto the stage to conclude the play. Zomorodian states that Henry VII seems to be the lesser man and tediously efficient in comparison to Warbeck. This ending, she says, is similar to the ending of Antony and Cleopatra when the tragic lovers are dead and the efficient Caesar takes the stage.

Zomorodian ends with the statement that Ford saw his dramatic interpretation of history in Perkin Warbeck as a defense of the genre and a defense of the legitimacy of theatre to see past, reviving the history play tradition.

Katherine Mayberry – Architecture and Peformance in The Comedy of Errors

In 2010,Twin Lake, Michigan built a model of the Rose Theatre for performance. This stage is smaller than the Globe that stands today and entrances for the audience on the ground floor. The recreation is primarily for a classroom and performance space for the students who participate in summer camp in the theatre. After performances, Pigeon Creek Shakespeare collects polls from the audiences about their experiences. When not at the Rose model, Pigeon Creek tours in the Twin Lake area.

Audience members noted an increased awareness of the public nature of several scene at the Rose. The actors felt this as well, which Mayberry speaks to. An actor states that he played more to individual audience members while on tour than when on the Rose stage, due to increased distance from the audience. The actor portraying Angelo noted a gestural difference in the touring space that indicated individuals who responded to his contact. In contrast, on the Rose stage, the actor felt his gesture became more public and general towards the audience. Actors also found it easier to confide in the audience in the touring space over the Rose stage. The actors saw the touring space audience as a more theatrical audiences.

People often describe the Rose as intimate and many audience members felt the eye contact that the actors gave to them. Audience members in the touring space felt that the visibility of other audience members could be distracting. Some audience members indicated that viewing other audience members seemed purposeful at the Rose, rather than accidental at the touring space. Many audiences also claimed that the performance at the Rose felt more “special.”

Mayberry acknowledges specific variables that played into these records. For example, it was rainy during the outdoor Rose performance. She also acknowledges differences in the marketing of the two performances, which also possibly had an effect on the audience responses. However, direct contact clearly does have different effects in different spaces, and Mayberry hopes that these recordings will continue into the future.

Nova Myhill – Fashion, Commerce, and Family: Audience and Authority in The Kight of the Burning Pestle

What drew audiences to the second Blackfriars Theatre? Myhill suggests that the story drew audiences in – anyone with six pence to spend. The Knight of the Burning Pestle focuses on the social homogeneity of the Blackfriars audience. The performance would most affect the stage-sitters, especially by the characters that join them upon the stage. Myhill states that George and Nell can suggest optional ways that the audience and the actors may react

Myhill points out that ASC actress Allison Glenzer opens the shows by stating that those seated on the stage are better dressed and more handsome than other spectators. She states that by pushing the gallant stools on our Blackfriars Playhouse makes those on gallant stools a part of the audience space. Myhill then has ASC actresses Stephanie Halladay Earl and Allison Glenzer to perform as the boy actor and George within the playing space to thee plenary presenters on the stage. ASC actress Abbi Hawk joins in from the audience as Nell and crawls onto the stage with audience help.

Myhill points out that George draws attention to himself by satirizing gallant behaviors on the stage by taking everything one step further. Nell, in comparison, stands apart from the stage-sitters by her sex. Through her husband’s financial authority and her maternal authority over the boy players, she is further set apart from the stage-sitters. She more often talks to her fellow stage-sitters and asks them to experience the same play that she does. Myhill has the actresses perform another scene to illustrate this.

The chance to take an interval is usurped in the play as well. The intervals, used to light the candles. The intervals are dominated by George and Nell, which Myhill illustrates through another scene with Hawk, Glenzer, and Earl.

Myhill runs out of time and is chased off by a bear, which Cook states is a “joy.”

Michael M. Wagoner – Scene Breaks and Interstitial Time in King John

Wagoner starts, stating that his has thirteen minutes to present, but that we may experience the time differently, called “subjected time.” He likens this to the two hours traffic of the stage that, while literally being two hours, is subjectively felt by changes in plot and audience emotions. He turns to the scene break between acts II and III in King John. He states that the act breaks are not likely authorial and these scene would have been continuous. Glenzer (playing Constance) and Hawk (playing Phillip) do this scene for the audience.

Wagoner explains that Constance in this scene is urgent and that we do not register a change in time; the action seems continuous. Phillip here states that the sun stays in the court, as if time stopped. Phillip has an immobility of time as Constance has an immobility of space, sitting on the ground. The staging without an emphasis of passage of time indicates the erasure that Constance so desires. Phillip’s movement forward contrasts this. Wagoner states that modern productions do not use a break just as the early modern theatre would do because the moment comes too soon for the traditional single interval.

However, originally another scene divided these scenes. This scene calls for Constance to remain seated on the stage. The scene break could indicate that the scenes are meant to be continuous, but divided by the interrupting scene. Wagoner has Hawk and Glenzer do the scene again, but rather than continuously, Glenzer as Constance stays on the stage crying as Hawk as Phillip leaves the stage to re-enter for the interrupting speech. This is palpable for the audience and creates a sense of scenic time not created by a continuous scene. Wagoner states that Constance’s name even indicates her propensity to stay still and in place.

Wagoner is then chased off by the bear.

Adam Miller-Batteau – Shakespeare at Summer Camp: Balancing Process and Product at Stagedoor Manor

Miller-Batteau states that many teachers focus on the process, rather than the product. He states that both should be valued and focused upon. At Stagedoor, a training center, rather than a camp, allowed Miller-Batteau to see how process and product can both be valued.

Miller-Batteau enumerates the number of performances put on by Stagedoor, which originally he felt got in the way of the process by performing so much. He noticed actors falling back on old habits and coming to realizations right before performance. Still, performance is necessary as a part of theatre education and the educational process.  Miller-Batteau questioned how to balance the process to prepare for performances and the energy for performance week.

Miller-Batteau states that the new practice of students using cue scripts forces the students to learn and get up on their feet with the show nearly immediately. Miller-Batteau has one-on-one text sessions with his students to make sure that everyone understands their words and creates a rapport with the students. Then, he brings the students together to be up on their feet to create the ensemble during the play which introduces the play as a play in performance. Miller-Batteau states that this allows him to be a teacher, rather than a director. Miller-Batteau also invites administrators and outside eyes to see the performances because outside eyes allows for more views and helps the students learn about performance for an outside group, rather than for just each other.

Miller-Batteau closes by with a statement by another teacher at Stagedoor that the students rely on the teachers to focus on the process. This stuck with him. Miller-Batteau reads that many directors and theatre artists see their art as a constant exploration and ever-evolving process. Ultimately, he offers no conclusions, only curious musings and questions.

Lunch and Learn: Masters of the Space (Crystal and Rusher)

Hello! It’s me, Mary Finch, one last time to live-blog today’s Lunch and Learn session presented by Ben Crystal and Warren Rusher of Passion in Practice.

“I love space. I’m fascinated by, what I would call, an original practice space.” – Crystal

What is an original practice space? It is a space with a similar dynamic to the space that Shakespeare’s actors would have used. These spaces are becoming more common, with pop-up Globes and container Globes; there’s a growing fascination with these spaces.

Crystal’s fascination began with the language and the meter, going to see shows at the RSC as a child and asking his father about the actors aren’t moving. Crystal thought “surely there must be a way to marry” movement and voice-work. That fascination grew to include an interest in ensemble work, similar to how Shakespeare’s company must have worked–the group equivalent to the similarity of the Folio and the Blackfriars.

Crystal plans to demonstrate some of the practices and disciplines he uses with his company to explore how the space can effect the work the company does.

This first example is similar to Viewpoints work, which always uses music.

Crystal turned on some instrumental music, and using a bamboo stick, Rusher began in a neutral standing position balancing the stick on his finger, and then began walking across the stage. When the stick falls (which it will as this is not a balance exercise), he will catch it, hold, and reset, and continue walking with eyes fixed on the top of the stick.  Crystal then demonstrated as well. They do this “for hours” as a litmus test for tension that needs to be released to facilitate fluid movement.

The next exercise involved Crystal and Rusher traversing the space together, each with their own bamboo stick. This forces the actors to begin listening to each other as well.

The Passion in Practice shows are never blocked, “for better or for worse” (Crystal) and instead relies upon the relationship between the actors on stage.

As a tactile society, productions sometimes use touch without considering status or exclusivity. So Passion and Practice uses what Crystal calls the “Sphere of Contact,” which is approximately two arm length’s apart and is inclusive. Using the sticks as a measure of closeness, creating limits of proximity, far and near. Pressing the sticks between their hands, they demonstrated dynamics of power, depth, nearness, speed, and height.

Dropping the sticks, they presented “Push, Pull, Yield, Resist” by standing palm to palm, showing the different dynamics of tension. They then dropped their hands and did the same exercise using only visual cues.

“It’s a question of tuning into each other and listening to each other” (Crystal).

Turning specifically to the architecture, Crystal began acknowledging the lighting, the stage shape, the pillars, the gemoetric shapes within the space. The spaces can make more sense of the plays, such as in Twelfth Night works better in a traverse space illustrating how not everyone on stage could see all the characters.

Marking out the smaller dynamics of the Wanamaker playhouse, the presenters then used smaller sticks to compensate for the more intimate structure. They also have to compensate for different lighting–they use candles, sometimes different candles for different productions and different locations in the playhouse.

They discovered that the strongest point to stand is not where it traditionally falls in a proscenium stage. It depends upon the lighting, the pillars, and the ability to see the audience which flanks three sides. At the Wanamaker, being too far downstage makes communing with those near the upstage area was difficult, and was actually a very intimate location. Therefore, upstage was more powerful and more public.

The traditional stagecraft is flipped on its head in spaces like the Wanamaker playhouse. Transposing proscenium shows to original practice spaces is very difficult for that reason.

How can we adapt to these spaces to improve our original practice playing in these spaces?

Without the scholarly work, actors and directors would not be able to take the original practice stage craft work forward. Scholarship makes a perfect marriage for actors and original practice ensemble and production work.

Blackfriars Conference 2015 – Plenary Session 9

Hello! It’s Mary Finch one last time to blog this Halloween morning plenary session, going from 9:00-10:15am and moderated by Terry Southerington from Mary Baldwin College.

Danielle Rosvalley, Tufts University
Before the Circus Came to town: Big Data, Barnum, and the Bard

Rosvalley began by calling to mind the classic images of circus attached to the name “Barnum.” However, Rosvalley was surprised to find that Barnum boasted of producing Shakespeare, namely The American Museum and Lecture Hall, purchased in 1861. The largest exhibit was the “Moral Lecture Room”—a theatre—which presented performances twice a day. Barnum attracted crowds that normally disdained theaters for their moral depravity.

When the museum caught fire in 1868, Barnum came under attack, specifically for the moral depravity of the Lecture Room. In a defense of his not-theater, Barnum asserted that when he performed Shakespeare he did it with the utmost care, and removed all vulgarity.

From this account, Rosvalley has since reconstructed the performances that Barnum put on at his theater. Data so far shows that only just over two percent of Barnum’s productions were penned by the Bard. Compared to other contemporary theaters, his claim seems absurd.

If Barnum was not producing Shakespeare, what was he producing? Rosvalley displayed a graph, where Shakespeare does not break the top 100 most common plays at Barnum’s Museum; at other contemporary theaters, one of Shakespeare’s plays does break the top twenty, and even top ten. By claiming the recognizable name of Shakespeare, Barnum claimed legitimacy without compromising morality.

This information about what production Barnum produced, Rosvalley is putting into a database where individuals can browse the plays and the evidence of their production. The Bear interrupted the production as Rosvalley was downloading an facsimile from the database.

Niamh O’Leary, Xavier University
The Ends of Sex: Bedroom Deaths in Jacobean Drama

O’Leary, for the sake of brevity, will be focusing on The Maid’s Tragedy looking at female agency within these bedroom death scenes. O’Leary asserts that these scenes can challenge the sexist and victimization of women in culture.

Contemporary performances can highlight women’s frustration with the sexual economy to reimagine the scene. Evadine is “a frustrating character but also a frustrated character.” She is surrounded by men—kings, mentors, and beyond—who have verbally and physically harass her sexually. In Act 3, scene 1, we see Evadine shyness might not be from the ideal of humble quiet wife but from a disgust and distaste for the male gaze. Nevertheless, Evadine is having an affair with the King. While men see it has women’s susceptibility to temptation, it might be a smart, ambitious, political move—a morally neutral move.

Most touchingly, Evadine is completely alone, surrounded by only serving women who are not confidants. By act 4, several men have threatened to kill her and she wonders at her isolation during her soliquoy. With all of this, her decision to use her body to gain control. But beyond just a body, she uses her logic, her reason, and her will to carry through her intention to kill, despite the King’s protestations.

Looking back to the mask from the second act, we can see a parallel between the events later on in the play. O’Leary was interrupted during her final remark s by the Bear.

Zoe Hudson, University of Kent
The Everyday Life of Shakespeare’s Earliest Document Reader

In Richard Stonely’s diary, on Tuesday, the 12th of the June, 1593 he recorded his purchases including Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis, making him one of Shakespeare’s first readers.

Looking at the diary from an interdisciplinary approach, Hudson has analyzed Stonley’s diary as a rich source for those trying to recreate life from 16th century London. Despite the dramatic events during Stonely’s life, his diary has not received much research or attention. During his work, Stonely interacted with the powerful and the average, making this a rare glimpse into Elizabethan life.

Within his diary, we can read about family dynamics, clothing purchases, and wedding traditions. When Stonely was imprisoned, he even recounts a brawl at the prison dinner table.

The diary entries combine the emotional, political, and social curiosity that surrounds our growing interest in historically informed theater practices. These manuscripts must be research holistically, as “relatable narratives” that can reveal meaningful information about Stonely’s England.

Thomas Ward, United States Naval Academy
Shouts, Slogans, and Political Consent in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus

The voicing ceremony is scene is part of the world of civic ritual that Coriolanus does not belong, but also reminiscent to parliamentary elections in Early Modern England. Coriolanus challenges this ritual and focuses on the practical force of martial law.

Accounts of EM election rituals recount the vehemence of the shouting for candidates. This “a [name]” construction was part of a war cry, making these interactions an intersection between the civic and the martial. For instance, in Henry VI part I we see soldiers call “A Talbot” in the wars as a war cry.

The overlap comes from the tradition of heraldry, which clarified social hierarchy: a main goal of elections. The danger existed that these cries might get out of control, challenging the power the elections were supposed to legitimize. Ward recounts several historical accounts of people denouncing or complaining about rioting and shouting. These cries revealed factions, and certain slogans were outlawed.

In some plays, such as Hamlet, we see crowds attempt to vote a king by shouts and riots: “Chose we Laertes shall be King!” The war cry and election shout are closely related.

Going back to Coriolanus, we see Caius cheered and shouted for after the battle as indicated by the Folio stage directions. In response, Caius asks “Make you a sword of me” again embodies the connection between war cry and election shouts.

Genevieve Love, Colorado College
The Crookbackt Prodegie

“Happy Halloween!” We might see scary things, such as bunchbackt toads. Where did these monstrous things come from? Why are they deformed and how?

Richard Gloucester reaches from a descendant uniqueness, saying “I am myself alone” even though he does have a brother. The metaphorical reading of Richard’s deformity renounces his devious acts, as well as the problems within the text. How are both the man and the text deformed?

The problems for Richard and True Tragedie reflect an issue with origins and accounts. Richard was born both too early and too late, unsettling his temporal situatedness. Not only was her mobile in time in Elizabethan England, but also in contemporary context as shown by the current modes of interpretation through the lens of disability.

The text itself also has a debated text, with varying narratives about how the text might have been “unfinished, sent before its time.” How does this text fit within the time narrative of publication?

True Tragedie contains more lines about the lack of a father, as one of the differences between the text and the Folio.

“In his likeness to his textual brother, Richard is never alone.”

Spencer K. Wall, University of Utal
Where is Leontes? Text and Stage as Sites of Jealousy

Wall presents the question about where the motivation for jealousy comes from within the text, which does not give much time or explanation for Leontes behavior. Drama has its own tricks for showing that more narrative time has passed than the stage time relates. Shakespeare uses Time to tell the audience that time has passed, but does not use such dramatic devices for Leontes’ fall into jealousy. There are no cues that more time has passed than the audience has scene.

However, there is a moment in the scene when Leontes’ appears to be absent. Although present in the scene, Leontes must ask how Hermione’s petition went. He is absent from the conversation, if not the scene, and must be staged.

One choice, could be to physically distance him from Hermione. This raises the question as to why he does not hear the conversation, and what is distracting him. MBC Shakespeare and Performance MFA actors presented the scene (Patrick Harris, Molly Harper, Maria Hart). This difference in Leontes’ attention makes him afraid of either what he saw, or what he missed.

The scene could also be staged with Leontes’ remaining near the conversation and still raises the question about why he is distracted. The choice to distance Leontes (physically and mentally) changes the character’s fall into jealousy.

 — Mary Finch
MLitt Student at MBC Shakespeare and Performance

Blackfriars Conference 2015 – Plenary Session 8

Mary Finch here! I will be the live-blogger for this session running from 5:00-6:15pm and moderated by Tyler Moss from The Shakespeare Forum.

Neil Vallelly, University of Otago
Way-making at Shakespeare’s Globe

This paper deals with two questions: What do we mean when we say we make or way, and why does that matter? Vallelly, began to answer these by discussing the opening of the Same Wanamaker playhouse, as well as the knew foyer at Shakespeare’s Globe. While lots of scholarship deals with what happens within in the theater not much has dealt with the semiotics outside of the theater space.

During research about light, Vallelly realized he had to begin by looking at the outside of Wanamaker, because that is where the theater experience begins. Theaters are not stagnant locations, but a imporant house in the midst of way-making. Vallelly distinguishing way-making from going as a process, rather than a means to an ends. Vallelly invoked Tim Ingold to describe theater as a knot; something that exists at a location, but also extends behind the single instance. He then pointed out that from above, the Globe even looks like a knot. The openness of the theater also calls to mind the relationship between the theatre and the world around it. Audiences are constantly reminded that the theater experience does not edge of the property, and the outside can constantly intrude into the theater from above.

In contrast, the enclosed space of the Wanamaker does not allow such easy permeation, severing the thread from the knot. When the Globe and Wanamaker exchanged performances of Julius Caesar, the annex was a common space for crowds from both theater. For the Globe, the use of the annex smoothed the transition from public to private, making the distinction impossible. In the Wanamaker, the transition was less smooth, and the pre-show events were separated by the requirements to take seats and adjust eyes to new lighting.

As audiences come together, we should consider the threads that come together.

Holly Picket, Washington and Lee University
Silence and the Music of the Spheres in Pericles

Much like how only Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo, directors must consider if audiences can hear the music that Pericles hears during the play. Music appears more frequently in this play; more than in any other play. The music also fulfills an important role, especially during the revelation. While some stage direction call for music, the quarto contains no such directions.

Picket plans to test the effects of the differing stagings using ASC actors (Tim Sailer, Andrew Goldwasser, and Patrick Poole).

At this point in the play, Pericles is at the end of his journey and has lost his wife and daughter. Silence has deepened his despair, rather than given him peace. In returning to speaking, he uses musical vocalization before the oral epiphany that only he can hear.

The actors played the scene once with music and then once without. Picket proposed that the audible music would connect audiences more with Pericles, while removing the music would do the opposite. Within the text, music has a range of meanings, from the holy to the wicked, throughout the text. In the beginning, music features in the incestuous and luxurious speeches, but later it function as a means of revival, either hard or smooth. It could also be religious, alluding the both the religious practice of the Greeks, or the Christians. Overall, music can release and transform throughout the play.

Musa Gernis, Washington University
The Privy in Public

How was  understanding at the Globe felt, as well as thought? To answer this, Gernis examined A Game at Chess by Thomas Middleton, which centers on a chest game and Gondomar, a ruler with a sore on his rear end which requires a chair with a hole in the center.

“When a toilet is brought on stage, there must be farts.” Looking at this scene, and the requirement of a commode on stage, Gernis says it requires a blatant treatment the scatological humor, rather than anything subtly ironic or allusive.

The scene was staged with ASC actors and many whoopie cushions.

This scene, which contains some of the scariest and most political moments of the play, is re-contextualized when the fart jokes are acknowledged. Gondomar cannot stop his mouth “or his sphincter.” His bodily functions alienates the audience, and the pawn-character. As the play continues, the Blank Knight loses his sway and control.

“Seated on the chair of ease, he becomes the butt of the joke.”

Maria Knowlton, Utah Valley University,
May Rites and Midsummer Offerings

Knowlton opened by discussing the similarities and differences between the Elizabethan holiday calendar and contemporary holidays. She detailed the typical activities that accompanied each passing season, many of which included courtly performances by the London theater companies.

Patronage protected companies politically, but was not hugely profitable from a financial standpoint due to the cost of costumes and props to stage productions. The high cost of properties forced companies to reuse and recycle, as well as find ways to fund their companies. Harsh weather did not deter new theaters from being built throughout London.

According to Henslowe’s receipts, new plays had higher attendance. Rotating plays and using season productions, companies lent some stability to their business practices. Re-using plays allowed companies to recycle properties, as well as built anticipation within their audiences as they looked forward to the seasonal shows.

In Shakespeare’s case, we can see a pattern similar to the one revealed by Henslowe’s diary. The plays have similar themes and events, if not direct temporal repetition. This affords a look into historical and contemporary habits of audiences.

Adam Zucker, University of Massachusetts
Love’s Labour’s Lost and the Pedagogy of Incomprehensibility

“The central text for Shakespeare’s relationship to school room tactics.” Scholars have used this text to prove that Shakespeare went to, and excelled at, grammar school well enough to construct the satire in Love’s Labour’s Lost. This logic has a lot of assumptions, most of which never hold up under scrutiny. We know that Shakespeare wrote about things he did not know, sculptures coming to life or exotic islands for instance.

What evidence do we use to create Shakespeare’s evidence? We want to see his brain as a mirror of our own. Perhaps if we can learn enough the way he learned it, we can be like him.

Scholars Barnes and Baldwin seemed to think that Shakespeare had no interest in formal education, beyond what he wanted or needed to be a successful playwright. Zucker does not wish to completely disagree, but present alternate lenses of understanding.

For instance, can we appreciate the Latin jokes within LLL without knowing Latin? Obscurity and difficulty was a problem felt by audiences of the sixteenth century, and therefore modern editors and scholars should not try to remove all confusion. Zucker than led an experiment where the audience read words allowed, leading up to honorificabilitudinatatibus. A word where the meaning is less important than the context surrounding it; a character proving that he can say a long silly sounding word.

Jennifer Holl, Rhode Island College
Name-Dropping and Theatrical Branding in Greene’s Tu Quoque

Holl begins with the ambiguity around the use of the word “brand” in Sonnet 111. Names can be used outside of the control of the figure they represent.

Holl asserts that Shakespeare’s name was used to sell a range of products, whether he wrote them or not, as support she invoked Tiffany Stern and accounts of Will Kempe complaining of ballad makers using his antics and name.

Name-dropping on stage, Holl argues, functions as a counter-product of the written use of name. There are instances where the name is absent (such as Hamlet complaining of Will Kempe) and more explicit use of names. John Cooke’s The City Gallant provides an example of name-dropping as a commodified sign as a means of publicity. The stage was a place to promote plays, actors, and upcoming events outside of immediate performance.

In the scene, the actor drops his own name within the scene, in a moment of amusing metatheater. The drama is disrupted the draw attention to the actor beyond the character and alert audiences to popularity of the actor. The humor only works if the actor is well known by the audience. This entices audiences to become aware of what is happening in order to get the “in joke” and find more such moments.

The success of the play might have depended upon the success of the actor, as shown by the re-naming of the play “Greene’s Tu Quoque” after a humorous moment within the play. His name, like Shakespeare’s, became public property and “a brand-name in itself.”

— Mary Finch
MLitt Student at MBC Shakespeare & Performance

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