“The Winter’s Tale” at the Lir, Dublin

Performances at the Lir on Pearse Street, Dublin, from Friday 1st December until Thursday 7th December, at 7.30pm. Matinee: Monday 4th December, 1pm.
Tickets: €15 and €10 concession

The dark dramas of violent jealousy, sexual slander and death at the court of Sicilia, lead to a small baby girl being abandoned in the wild reaches of rural Bohemia. There, sixteen years later, the hot midsummer festivities are the background for delight, disguise and denunciation, which in turn carry the tale, replete with runaway lovers, a scalliwag, an old shepherd and his clown son back to Sicilia. The icy mourning of King Leontes begins to thaw as these two contrasting worlds meld, and in a magical finale full of revelations,  Shakespeare shows us his delight in such a vivid, motley collection of characters and his ultimate belief in forgiveness and redemption.

For more information on the production and to book tickets, see the Lir website here.

 

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CFP: Borderlines XXII: Sickness, Strife, and Suffering at Queen’s University Belfast 2018

Call for papers for Borderlines XXII: Sickness, Strife, and Suffering. This conference will be held from 13-15th April 2018 at Queen’s University Belfast.

Proposals for both papers and panels are welcomed from postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in the fields of both Medieval and Early Modern studies.

Sickness, strife and suffering punctuate many medieval and early-modern narratives. When viewed by the modern eye, however, these experiences can be difficult to comprehend and empathise with, without resorting to anachronisms. Indeed, in her landmark treatise on pain, Elaine Scarry contests that ‘[p]hysical pain does not simply resist language but actively destroys it’ (Scarry, 1985: 4), thus rendering any description or explanation of pain practically impossible, regardless of era.

In the light of Scarry’s work, the specific difficulties posed by the expression and understanding of pain in the Middle Ages have been expounded upon and theorised by numerous scholars. Esther Cohen’s work on the various symbolisms of medieval pain (Cohen, 2010), in addition to Robert Mills’ adumbration of translative pain theories, mapping the medieval experience of pain onto that of the current day and vice versa (Mills, 2005), are just two examples of scholarship exploring this fascinating area of research connecting the human experience of the present with that of the past.

It is in this light that we are pleased to invite abstracts of ca. 250 words related to pain in the Middle Ages and early modern period. Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Collective pain
  • Depictions of pain
  • Explanations of pain
  • Judicial literature
  • Medical literature
  • Memory and painNarratives of suffering
  • Pain and creativity
  • Pain and pleasure
  • Psychological pain
  • Social pain
  • Religious literature
  • Suffering in the afterlife

Please send all abstracts (along with a short academic biography) to borderlinesxxii@gmail.com by 5th February 2018.

Conference: Constructing the equality of the sexes in the early modern period

Constructing the equality of the sexes in the early modern period /
Penser l’égalité des sexes à l’ancien régime
25th-26th October 2017 National University of Ireland, 49 Merrion Square, Dublin 2

Wednesday 25th October
9.15am Welcome
9.30 Margarete Zimmermann, Freie Universität Berlin (Emerita) ‘L’anachorétisme “mondain” de Gabrielle Suchon: un outil pour penser l’égalité’
10.15 Derval Conroy , University College Dublin ‘Strategies of ambivalence: constructing equality in Gabrielle Suchon’s Traité de la Morale et de la Politique’ (1693)
11am Coffee
11.30 Key-note speaker: Geneviève Fraisse, Centre national de recherche scientifique, Paris
‘L’opérateur égalité’
12.45 Lunch
2pm Key-note speaker: Marie-Frédérique Pellegrin, Université de Lyon 3
‘Égalité, neutralité, différencialisme. Confronter Descartes, Malebranche et Poulain de la Barre’
3.15 Coffee
3.45 Sarah Carvallo, École centrale de Lyon ‘Riolan et l’anthropologie médicale du sexe’
4.30pm Kathryn Hoffmann, University of Hawaii-Manoa ‘Difference and unstable gender in seventeenth-century France’
5.15pm Fin de journée 8pm Conference dinner

Thursday 26th October
9.30am Jan Clarke, Durham University ‘The equality of women: theatre professionals in seventeenth-century France’
10.15 Dan Carey, NUI Galway, and Gábor Gelléri, Aberystwyth University ‘Women and the Art of Travel, 1570-1800’
11am Coffee
11.30 Key-note speaker: Siep Stuurman, Utrecht University (Emeritus)
‘The emergence of a ‘sense of the global’ and the Enlightenment
critique of colonialism
12.45 Lunch
2pm Heidi Keller-Lapp, Eleanor Roosevelt College, University of California, San Diego ‘Writing Canadoises and Jesuitesses into being: Ursuline missionaries in seventeenth- century New France’
2.45 Carol Baxter, Trinity College Dublin ‘Anti-equality narratives in Port-Royal: an equality strategy?’
3.30 Danielle Clarke, University College Dublin ‘“Their sex not equal seemed”’: concepts of equality in 17th-century English writing’
4.15pm Closing remarks

The conference is organised by Dr Derval Conroy, Associate Professor, French and Francophone Studies, UCD.
The conference is graciously supported by the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Research Fund, University College Dublin; Centre for Gender and Women’s History, Trinity College Dublin; College of Arts and Humanities, University College Dublin; School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, University College Dublin; and The Society for Renaissance Studies.

Review: Hamnet at the Peacock/Abbey – Dublin Theatre Festival

Hamnet, as the play’s programme informs us, is just one letter away from greatness. It’s a predicament that haunts the play’s central character, Hamnet Shakespeare, who is based on the real-life son of William Shakespeare. In the play, Hamnet is close to great things – his father, literary fame, knowledge, life, death – but is tragically trapped on their margins. In one hour and with just two actors, Hamnet plucks its titular hero from the side-lines and makes him the centre of attention to tell his story.

From his opening lines as the eleven-year old Hamnet, Ollie West arrests the audience’s attention and never lets go. As a ghost and in asking the audience “Who’s there?”, before telling us “I’m not allowed to talk to strangers”, Hamnet recalls the opening of Hamlet and indicates that fourth-wall breaking will be par for the course. The audience will be both spectators to and participants in Hamnet’s working through of some big and very personal questions – What makes a man great? Why do we suffer? Why do we make art? Why would you choose “not to be”? Are some people born bad? When they’ve never really lived, why do children die? Does his father prefer him or Hamlet? Why did they see so little of one another? It is remarkable that in spite of the gravity of these questions and of Hamnet’s situation, the play is packed with comedy. For instance, Hamnet’s youth is highlighted as he energetically knocks out a Johnny Cash tune on his keyboard, gives a new friend tips on how best to play dead (the key is to stay still and not breathe – wannabe actors take note!), and stuck for answers he pulls out his phone to ask Google. As the play’s authors have crafted a fine balance between tragedy and comedy, West has plenty to work with and he ably shifts between the tones and the media (stage and film) of this production – no small feat for any actor, never mind a pre-teen boy.

K800_HAMNET-3177 - Dead Centre - 2017

Hamnet sees himself on the video – Image credit: DeadCentre.org

Exploring the performative and critical history of Hamlet, David Bevington observes that the play “has now evolved into a cultural expression of what we as a society have become today” (Murder Most Foul, 2011: vii). Like its more famous ancestor then, Hamnet tackles not only existential questions, it seeks in part to express and examine the state of contemporary society (“to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature” [Hamlet, 3.2]). Hamnet and his father Will are trotted out for our entertainment, but the play frequently forces the audience’s gaze back on itself. This is achieved both literally through the backdrop of a live video that shows the theatre and metaphorically as the play pokes at the suppurating wounds in modern life. Hamnet’s targets are near universal and many hit close to home; the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, Donald Trump’s presidency, celebrity culture, the double-edge sword that is technology, and child-rearing practices (including the Work/Life balance which is an ideal but more often another source of guilt for the working parent), all fall within the bounds of the characters’ discussions.

Hamnet 2017 - H in white makeup - deadcentre.org

Hamnet faces the video screen – Image credit: DeadCentre.org

Throughout, Hamnet offers several opportunities to play “spot the reference”. Hamnet’s speeches are peppered with Shakespearean quotations and allusions and at other times the play lifts wholesale from the canon. Hamlet is the key source, but we also hear most of Constance’s “Grief fills the room up of my absent child” speech from King John; as Hamnet misses his sister there are echoes of the separated twins of Twelfth Night and Comedy of Errors; Falstaff and Hal’s play acting in Henry IV Part 1 springs to mind when Hamnet plays at being Hamlet meeting Old Hamlet; and there are touches of Act 5 of Antony and Cleopatra when Hamnet worries whether in the future some actor will play him on stage, but botch the job.

The play is more than a tapestry of Shakespearean references though, and even as it draws on Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, it is something fresh, original, and striking. In the days since I have seen Hamnet, I’ve thought about it again and again – it is a prismatic work, turning the play over in my mind I keep seeing new facets, questions, and ideas – and I’m only certain of one thing: I want to see it again.

Hamnet is a Dead Centre and Abbey Theatre co-production and is written by Ben Kidd and Bush Moukarzel, with William Shakespeare. Cast and production details here.

Hamnet runs as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival until 7th October – tickets here –  before touring to Europe and Asia. There will be a Post-Show Discussion on Thursday 5th October, with members of the company.

Public lecture: ‘Gunpowder and Perfume: The Poetry of John Donne’ – SRS 50th anniversary

The Society for Renaissance Studies is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a series of lectures in Ireland and the UK in early September, on the theme of the five senses.

You are warmly invited to attend the Dublin lecture, by Prof. Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (Ireland Professor of Poetry) on ‘Gunpowder and Perfume: The Poetry of John Donne’, which takes place at the National Library of Ireland on Wednesday 13th September at 7pm.

John Donne portrait

John Donne

Prof. Ní Chuilleanáin is the seventh Ireland Professor of Poetry and her appointment was announced by President Michael D. Higgins in May 2016. Born in Cork, Prof. Ní Chuilleanáin is an award-winning poet and the author of numerous poetry collections.

Founded in 1967, the SRS “provides a national, and international forum for all those – whether academics, independent scholars, postgraduates and undergraduates, school teachers and students, or members of the general public – who have an interest in any aspect of the study of the Renaissance” (source: SRS website).

Concert in Cork by UCC’s Early Music Ensemble and Chamber Musicians

University College Cork’s Early Music Ensemble (directed by Simon MacHale) and Chamber Music Ensemble (directed by Dr Jillian Rogers) will perform a joint evening concert of chamber and consort music of the fifteenth to eighteenth century on Wednesday 10th May.

This free event will take place in the beautiful nineteenth century surroundings of St. Vincent’s Church, Cork city, at 7.30pm.

st_vincents_church

St. Vincent’s church, Sunday’s Well, Cork city.

 

Prof Andrew Hadfield to Visit UL

Centre for Early Modern Studies, Limerick

Hadfield

The Centre for Early Modern Studies is delighted to host Professor Andrew Hadfield, University of Sussex, who will deliver a lecture entitled

“Truth, Lies and Scandal at the Court of King James: The Countess and the Archbishop”

 Thursday April 20th, Main Building C1079, 12pm.

Professor Hadfield is distinguished scholar of many aspects of early modern literature and culture, and is an expert in Shakespeare and Spenser. He is the author and editor of several books, including Edmund Spenser: A Life (OUP, 2012), Shakespeare and Republicanism (2005), and (ed. with R. Gillespie) The History of the Irish Book, vol III: The Irish Book in English, 1550-1800 (OUP, 2006). He is currently Visiting Professor at University College Dublin (April-May 2017).

All Welcome!

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