Review: Hamlet by Icarus Theatre Collective at Cork Opera House

Review: Hamlet by Icarus Theatre Collective at Cork Opera House – 6th Feb. 2017
Review by Edel Semple

Icarus Theatre Collective’s Hamlet, on tour in Ireland and the UK at present, packages itself as “Shakespeare for the Game of Thrones generation”. In its set, costumes, and action, the production often nods to the popular HBO series, using the now familiar imagery to enliven and illuminate this iconic tragedy. Every character carried a sword, Gertrude and Claudius donned furs like trophies of a recent hunting party, and the pair sat in thrones decorated with a spear design that illustrated the interests of the “warlike state”. Denmark’s brutish culture, and Hamlet’s alienation from it, was demonstrated early on as, for the court’s entertainment, a brawny Laertes dispatched an opponent in a bloody knife fight. Huge Danish flags formed the backdrop for the stage and the unfussy set, with its pillars and tiered marble steps, provided plenty of scope for the cast to traverse from the battlements to the court to the graveyard. The play script was similarly economical; the performance time was a neat 2 hours 15min and the cuts were effective. For instance, the Fortinbras subplot was omitted entirely, as in many modern stage productions and Olivier and Zeffirelli’s films, and the production was all the better for it.

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Laertes and his opponent, with Claudius and Gertrude in the background (Credit: Icarus Facebook)

 

The production had just a cast of nine but it seemed like much more as each actor played numerous roles and characters were rarely alone. On Elsinore’s battlements, for example, seven soldiers stood on guard to be met by Horatio. In their exchange, the soldiers responded like a chorus; they would answer Horatio’s question in unison, or one line would be shared by several speakers. In the opening scene, I found this an irritating distraction – it was, quite simply, clutter that got in the way of clear meaning and performance. Later in the play however, the chorus was used effectively and opened avenues for analysis. When Hamlet attacked Ophelia, the actor playing Gertrude said “get thee to a nunnery” before Hamlet repeated the line to Ophelia. This was perhaps a version of Gertrude in Hamlet’s mind, taking his side and advocating chastity and an all-female environment as women’s only route to safety.

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Ophelia recites Hamlet’s letter, now held by Guildenstern and Rosencrantz  (Credit: Icarus Facebook)

 

As Claudius prayed, the chorus sometimes spoke to and for him. When the soldiers informed Hamlet of the Ghost’s appearance, they stood around the stage; their voices acted like an eerie echo chamber and the effect was as disorienting as the supernatural encounter they described. This, however, brings me to a further criticism. Perhaps over-exposure to The Walking Dead and past Hamlets have influenced my expectations of the Ghost, but I feel short-changed when “Old Mole” in no way resembles a corpse (as in the Cumberbatch Hamlet) or a spectre (as in the Branagh and Tennant versions). As in other productions, Icarus’ Claudius doubled as Old Hamlet but when he appeared on stage, save for some smoke and the fear of the soldiers, there were no signs that Old Hamlet was in fact supposed to be a terror-inspiring spectre. Thus as Old Hamlet looked remarkably healthy for a dead man, his scenes were a little lacking.

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Hamlet (far left), with Horatio (seated), a soldier and the Ghost  (Credit: Icarus Facebook)

Overall though, this was a solid production with several flashes of brilliance. Besides the neat cuts to the script and clear vision in the set and costuming, there were striking moments made memorable thanks to the performances of the cast. The tag-team of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were one of the production’s gems. Cast as a woman and man respectively, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern added some much needed levity to the seriousness of the Danish court. The pair appeared youthful, engaging in slapstick like tripping on the stairs and stealing Hamlet’s letter from Polonius and Ophelia to mock the sentiment. Their betrayal of Hamlet was not an act of malice or cunning, but of immaturity; naively impressed by the king and queen, they held to a misguided allegiance to the monarchy rather than their old friend. In his rejection of the pair (“though you fret me you cannot play upon me”), Hamlet assumed all of his princely authority to banish them from his sight.

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Rosencrantz, Hamlet, and Guildenstern  (Credit: Icarus Facebook)

 

Although youthful, Hamlet was neither an effete intellectual nor a sulky teen. Unlike the erratic hyperactivity or inertia of other Danes, the performance by Icarus’ Hamlet was confident and measured. When Hamlet did display intense emotion then, the impact on the scene was palpable. In the closet scene, Hamlet was pitiful when the Ghost reprimanded him and plain distraught when Gertrude could “see nothing there”. During the Mousetrap, Hamlet jumped to his feet and squared up to Claudius, who visibly bristled with his hand on his sword; for a moment it looked as if vengeance would be had and an alternative ending was in store.

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Gertrude and Hamlet in the closet scene (Credit: Icarus Twitter)

 

In the finale, Gertrude deliberately drank the poisoned wine; she determinedly defied her husband, protected her son, and chose her own (fatal) path. Following soon after, Claudius’ death was an arresting affair that visually recalled the death of Fassbender’s Macbeth; impaled by Hamlet’s sword, the king died kneeling with his back to the audience, his head forever in a penitential bow. Horatio’s performance was also particularly affecting. Cross-gendered casting was typical in the production – intriguingly Ophelia played the Gravedigger, a doubling I’ve not seen before – and Camille Marmié was compelling as Horatio. Surrounded by the bodies of the royals, nobles, and the courtiers murdered by Laertes and Hamlet in their frenzy, Horatio sat forlornly atop a mound of corpses. With the omission of Fortinbras, Horatio’s description of the “carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts” became a soliloquy where, like Hamlet before her, she toyed with the idea of suicide. Her life hung in the balance and, as the sole survivor of the orgy of violence, the audience were invested in her fate. After a tense moment, Horatio finally cast the poisoned chalice aside and the scene cut to black. Such was the strength of both performances, I could envision the actors playing Horatio and Hamlet exchange roles as Faustus and Mephistophilis did in the RSC Doctor Faustus (2016).

All in all, Icarus Theatre Collective’s Hamlet is an invigorating and stylish production that captures the attention from the opening scene to Horatio’s last word.

Icarus Theatre Collective’s Hamlet concludes its tour of Ireland in the Siamsa Tíre Theatre, Tralee, Co. Kerry, on 13th-14th February 2017. More information on the touring schedule, cast etc. can be found on the Icarus Theatre Collective’s website here.

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Report: Celebrating Shakespeare 400: Performing Pericles, Prince of Tyre in Cork

In mid-November 2015, the Irish Renaissance Seminar met in Marsh’s Library. The seminar theme “Time, Memory, and Commemoration” looked back back to the past but also looked expectantly to the future via an open discussion of plans for the Shakespeare quartercentenary. Many of the proposals which were aired at the meeting bore fruit and have been promoted and cataloged on this blog. My project “Celebrating Shakespeare 400: Performing Pericles, Prince of Tyre”, funded by the Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme, was one of the final commemorative events in Irish universities in 2016.

The project’s primary aim was to make a unique contribution to the worldwide celebrations of Shakespeare 400. It sought too to inspire interest in Shakespeare’s lesser-known drama; to deepen our understanding of Shakespeare’s sources and his legacy; and to cultivate networks between scholars, theatre practitioners, and the general public. The project comprised a staged reading of Shakespeare’s critically-neglected late play Pericles, Prince of Tyre (c.1606) held in the Unitarian Church in Cork city, and a symposium and public lecture held in University College Cork.

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The Unitarian Church, Cork city

Although unfamiliar to a general audience, Pericles proved to be ideally suited to performance as a staged reading. Story-telling is central to its dramaturgy and, as its narrator Gower insists, the tale is designed to “glad your ear and please your eyes”. As hoped, the performance introduced a new audience to this little-known Shakespearean romance. Part of this new audience included the cast of community actors – students from UCC Drama and Theatre Studies and the local LittleShoes drama group – as Pericles was unfamiliar to them and indeed most had never performed Shakespeare before. After just two days of rehearsals we were delighted to take to the stage, with our director Sinead Dunphy, to perform for a packed house. The reading had in fact sold out quickly and we even had to secure extra chairs on the night – as the British Council’s Shakespeare 400 programme suggested, it seems that “Shakespeare Lives…in Cork”!

The reading attracted a diverse audience which included the general public, as well as UCC staff and students of all levels. Cork is a designated UNESCO Learning City and both during and after the project, it was evident that the performance inspired an enthusiastic response from the city’s lifelong learners. The production was filmed and is available online here. A scholarly review of the production can be found on Dr Peter Kirwan’s Bardathon blog.

In addition to the IRC New Foundations funding, the project was also supported by UCC’s CACSSS Graduate School, the UCC Information Services Strategic Fund, and UCC’s School of English. This group of supporters were invaluable when it came to organising the symposium/graduate masterclass which explored Pericles, its sources, and critical and performative history, as well as issues relevant to the plot. With papers that addressed a wide range of topics including Old English, Middle English, neo-Latin, Shakespearean drama, gender studies, and Shakespeare on film, the interdisciplinary symposium explored and enhanced our understanding of Shakespeare, his influences, and his place in the literary canon.

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Dr Peter Kirwan speaking at the “Celebrating Shakespeare 400: Performing Pericles” symposium in November 2016. 

The keynote public lecture, delivered by Dr Peter Kirwan (University of Nottingham), gave a rare insight into the herculean task of editing Pericles. The symposium concluded with a convivial roundtable on the performance of Pericles, involving the director, actors, and myself as project leader. Full details on the symposium’s schedule can be found here.

Report by Dr Edel Semple.

Report – Irish Renaissance Seminar at the University of Limerick, 5th November 2016

 

Guest report by Dr Carrie Griffin

The Centre for Early Modern Studies, Limerick, was delighted to welcome delegates and speakers to the autumn meeting of the Irish Renaissance Seminar, held for the first time at the University of Limerick. We gathered on a beautiful, crisp Saturday in UL’s Kemmy Business School for an afternoon of papers on the theme “Early Modern Otherness: Outlaws, Exiles, Outsiders”.

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Our three-paper panel session opened at 1pm with Dr Clodagh Tait, a lecturer in the History Department at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick and a member of the executive committee of the Limerick Centre for Early Modern Studies. Clodagh’s paper, entitled “Outlawed Emotions: Lordly Rage and its Consequences in Early Modern Ireland”, was concerned with what the State Papers can tell us about the language around reports of emotional outbursts, cursing, oaths, and verbal violence, in particular focusing on Turlough Luineach, seemingly renowned for overawing others through rage and violent language. She argued that our sense of an idealised Irish lord, an impression formed from the honour values associated with that community and the praise-poetry composed for them, might in fact be challenged by this evidence, which seems to have more to do with emotional responses in a predominantly “face-to-face society”.

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Dr Clodagh Tait

 

The Gaelic lords and the peculiar nuances of Bardic poetry were the subject of the second paper in this panel. Dr Gordon Ó Riain’s paper “A Fifteenth-Century Ulster Poet in Exile”, traced the fortunes of Conchubar, a poet exiled by his patron ÉinrÍ (one of the O’Neill of TÍr Eoghain). From his uncertain position as an outcast in Connacht, the poet composed a poem that includes a warning of an impending full satire; this warning found formal expression in the poem in a tréfocal, and its inclusion augments the kind of praise offered by the poet in this context.

Finally in this session Evan Bourke, a PhD researcher with the RECIRC Project, NUIG, presented a paper entitled “The ‘Burden[some] Sister’: The Reception and Representation of Jean Appelius (nee Dury) in the Hartlib Circle, 1641-1661”, showcasing research on letters that evidence the social exclusion suffered by Jean Appellius, sister to John Dury, that can be found in letters written by Dorothy Moore, her sister-in-law. Though no letters written by Jean are extant, Moore’s letters to members of the circle show that Jean was a problematic figure in the Dury circle: she was considered to be less than pious, and described in very strong terms in correspondence. Bourke’s contention was that the letters evidence a project of ‘othering’ within a close network, containing very great detail about Jean but also a very strong dismissal of her.

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Evan Bourke

After tea we were treated to a plenary lecture by Dr Ruth Ahnert. Ruth, a senior lecturer in Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary University of London and a co-director (with Prof Joad Raymond) of the Centre for Early Modern Mapping News and Networks, is currently conducting research on Tudor Networks of Power, in which she combines digital methods from the field of Complex Networks to study Tudor letters from the State Papers. Ruth’s fascinating lecture, entitled “Conspiracy and Surveillance in Tudor England”, demonstrated how Complex Network analysis can be incredibly revealing for Tudor letters, exploiting and studying similar aspects such as nodes, hubs and edges to reveal similar underlying patters and real-world networks. Ruth showed us in great detail how this kind of collaboration (undertaken with her husband Sebastian Ahnert) can uncover all sorts of activity and connections between suspected spies, conspirators and double-agents that would not ordinarily be discernible in traditional approaches to this sort of archive. One of the case-studies used here were the letters of Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon and the great-grandson of Edward VI, who was a prisoner in London and was exiled to Venice in the 1550s. Ruth’s evidence uncovered an anomaly (an unusual burst of activity) around him. All but one of his letters preserved in the State Papers was sent from exile, and a high proportion of them were intercepted. Courtenay knew he was under surveillance, but he persists in writing to dubious individuals.

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Dr Ruth Ahnert

After a day of wonderful papers we adjourned to the nearby Castletroy Park Hotel for an early dinner and a very jolly time. We heartily recommend the fish and chips!

This meeting of the Irish Renaissance Seminar was sponsored by the faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, UL; The School of Culture and Communication, UL; and the Society for Renaissance Studies. A sincere thanks to delegates who travelled to be with us on the day, and in particular huge gratitude to our four splendid speakers. We look forward to reconvening in the springtime at UCD for the first Irish Renaissance Seminar meeting of 2017!

Guest post by Dr Carrie Griffin, Lecturer in Early Modern English Literature in the School of Culture & Communication at University Limerick.

Report – Launch of Centre for Early Modern Studies, Limerick, and “Early modern Ireland” lecture

 

Shakespeare 400 has kept myself and many Irish Shakespeareans busy these past ten months. With many stage productions, screenings, conferences, public lectures, festivals, and workshops to organise, participate in, and attend, both here and abroad, these wonderful events can seem like a burden and the associated demands on one’s personal finances, time etc. present a substantial challenge. (If Shakespeare is sat merrily in a pantheon of literary gods somewhere, I hope he appreciates all the fuss! And while I’m at it, I hope that Jonson, Beaumont, and Cervantes, who have their own anniversaries this year, are giving him a right ribbing!)

Thus, it was a joy to find that the recent launch of the Centre for Early Modern Studies, Limerick, offered an array of pleasures for the weary early modernist. The launch took place on one of October’s prettiest autumn evenings in the inviting surrounds of the Glucksman Library’s Reading Room. Against the backdrop of the green surrounds of the University of Limerick campus, the audience were warmly welcomed by Dr. Richard Kirwan, the chair of CEMS, and his colleagues. Dr. Kirwan paid tribute to the Irish Research Council for their support of CEMS (via a New Foundations grant) and to his scholarly and administrative collaborators across the disciplines in Mary Immaculate and UL who were instrumental in establishing the new Centre.

The importance and value of collaboration and networking seemed to be something of a theme for the evening, as Prof. Jane Ohlmeyer (TCD) touched on this subject many times during her lecture on “Ireland in the Early Modern World”. The author of several influential monographs, including Making Ireland English: The Irish Aristocracy in the Seventeenth Century (2012) and Ireland from Independence to Occupation, 1641-1660 (2002), Prof. Ohlmeyer presented the audience with many insights into the seventeenth century and into her approaches to and aspirations for early modern research in Ireland.

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Prof. Ohlmeyer and Dr. Kirwan in the Glucksman Library, UL  (Photo credit: Alan Place)

Prof. Ohlmeyer, who has been recently appointed as Chair of the Irish Research Council, highlighted how collaboration can enrich our studies, enabling us to broaden our knowledge and share it with a national and global community. The lecture and post-Q&A discussions reminded me too of the value of encouragement to and role models for emerging scholars; sometimes only senior scholars can take on new initiatives and create opportunities in our fields and the importance of their leading by example cannot be underestimated. Prof. Ohlmeyer continued to urge the audience to apply for funding for research projects and to take advantage of the excellent resources which Irish research has already produced. Should we need inspiration, the fruits of such successful bids were in evidence before us – the foundation of the Centre for Early Modern Studies, Limerick and the digitisation of the 1641 Depositions (a project funded by the IRC, AHRC, and TCD), which Prof. Ohlmeyer discussed during her talk. Prof. Ohlmeyer stressed too the significance of the Bolton Collection; not only do its treasures make Limerick a desirable place to conduct research on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Collection can help us to reconstruct and understand Ireland’s place in the early modern world.

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Prof. Ohlmeyer (TCD, IRC) speaking in the Glucksman Library, UL

Prof. Ohlmeyer’s wide-ranging, illustrated talk on the position of early modern Ireland and its global connections combined a ‘big picture’ approach with fascinating detail. The audience learned of the exotic items found in a washpit in Rathfarnham Castle in 2014. This treasure trove of objects, including shoes, buttons, jewellery, and jars of cosmetics, demonstrated that the Loftus family were fashion conscious and on top of the latest trends. The Castle’s inhabitants were also consumers of luxuries from far flung lands; the pit contained evidence of tea, coffee, and sugar from the West Indies, and dozens of pipes were found, the tobacco likely sourced from South America. A Spanish coin made of silver mined in Peru was also found in the pit.

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Rathfarnham Castle hoard  (Photo credit: Alva McGowan/IrishArchaeology.ie)

Prof. Ohlmeyer discussed Ireland’s maritime connections, including pineapples arriving in to Ireland in the 1660s and the voyages of Irish sailors to Asia and the Americas. Questioning what did it mean to be ‘Irish’ in the seventeenth century, Prof. Ohlmeyer examined the complex identities of social groups such as Irish Catholics, the Old English, and New English. Prof. Ohlmeyer closed her talk by examining the impact on Ireland of the European global empires in the Atlantic and Eastern worlds. The political, social, and economic effects on Ireland were both large and small. For instance, the audience was much amused to hear of Bailey, an inhabitant of Hacketstown, Co. Carlow, who irately complained to the authorities of the loss of his spices and who suspected that the local insurgents who had stole his cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon were using them to flavour their morning droughts!

The launch of the Centre for Early Modern Studies, Limerick, concluded with a convivial gathering and looked forward to the next such gathering in Limerick for the Irish Renaissance Seminar in November.

Report by Dr Edel Semple, UCC.

Culture Night: Shakespeare’s Sources & the Boole Library’s Resources

[A repost of this guest post by our own Dr Edel Semple for The River-side blog of UCC Library’s Special Collections, Archives, and Repository Services.]

The River-side welcomes this guest post from Dr Edel Semple, School of English on her experience using items from Special Collections’ early modern books collections in her Culture Night talk ‘Shakespeare’s Sources and Boole Library’s Resources.’ Shakespeare’s Sources and Boole … Continue reading [see link below] →

Source: Culture Night: Shakespeare’s Sources & the Boole Library’s Resources

Report: 6th Annual Tudor and Stuart Ireland Interdisciplinary Conference

6th Annual Tudor and Stuart Ireland Interdisciplinary Conference

Aug 19-20, 2016

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Evan Bourke and Bronagh McShane on the registration desk

The 6th Annual Tudor and Stuart Ireland Conference took place at NUI Galway on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 August 2016. This year’s conference welcomed over 80 delegates attending over both days of the conference from institutions across Ireland and beyond. The programme featured more than 40 research papers on a variety of topics, from religious history, women’s history and Shakespeare, to early modern Irish law, book history and the Irish abroad. The programme also featured two special panel sessions; ‘Shakespeare and Ireland’ and a session in honour of Professor Steven Ellis. Plenary addresses were delivered by Professor Mary O’Dowd (QUB) and Professor Andrew Hadfield (University of Sussex).

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The first day of the conference opened with a welcome address by Professor Daniel Carey, director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway.  This was followed by a dynamic programme of sessions featuring new research presented in thematic 1.5 hour sessions.  The topic of papers were representative of the broad spectrum of specialities that dominate the study of early modern Ireland.  These included papers on collegiate churches and Galway’s early modern Augustinian foundations, political pamphlets, the episcopate of the Established Church in the wake of the Reformation, early modern Irish women, kerns and politico-military history, as well as themes such as contagion and capitalism in early modern Ireland.  After lunch, a special panel session on ‘Shakespeare and Ireland’ featured stimulating presentations by Dr Naomi McAreavey (UCD), who discussed performances of Shakespeare on the seventeenth century Irish stage, and Emer McHugh (NUIG), who gave an insightful overview of Shakespeare performances in Ireland in 2016. Afternoon panel sessions included papers such as Dr David Heffernan (Ind.) ‘The “composition for cess” controversy and the position of the Old English in mid- Elizabethan Ireland, c.1575-84’, Ms Alix Chartrand (Cambridge) ‘Tories and thugs: the impact of seventeenth-century struggles against Irish banditry on India’ and Dr Felicity Maxwell (NUIG) ‘Dorothy Moore’s Irish connections: Protestant networking and social critique in the 1640s’.

The first day of the conference concluded with Professor Mary O’Dowd’s plenary address on age as a useful category of analysis, followed by a conference dinner at Kirby’s Restaurant, formerly the site of a seventeenth-century Dominican convent, which provided delegates with opportunities to network.

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Prof. Mary O’Dowd (QUB) being introduced by Prof. Marian Lyons (Maynooth University

The second day of the conference commenced with a special panel session in honour of Professor Steven Ellis, internationally recognised historian of the Tudor period, who recently retired from the Discipline of History at NUI Galway. Presentations were delivered by Kieran Hoare (NUIG), Dr Gerald Power (Metropolitan University, Prague) and Dr Ruth A. Canning (UCC). This special panel session was followed by seven thematic sessions which featured twenty-one research which included papers such as Dr Brian MacCuarta (Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu) ‘An Irish layman in Rome in the mid-1590s’, Professor Caroline Newcombe (Southwestern University, United States) ‘How early Irish marital property law influenced the end of Brehon Law’, Dr John Bergin (QUB) ‘The career of Dennis Molony (1650-1726), an Irish Catholic lawyer and agent in London’, Dr Jason McElligott (Marsh’s Library) ‘Early modern female book owners: the evidence from Ireland’s first public library’, Dr Willy Maley (Glasgow) ‘Double Dutch: the Boate brothers and Ireland’, and Dr John Cunningham (Exeter/TCD) ‘The apothecary in early modern Ireland’. Proceedings concluded with a plenary address delivered by Professor Andrew Hadfield on ‘Edmund Spencer the Less among the Jacobites’.

Conference proceedings have been disseminated in the form of podcasts, which can be downloaded, shared, and played for free through iTunes and SoundCloud. Podcasts from Tudor & Stuart Ireland conferences also form an important corpus of early modern material presented through www.historyhub.ie, a major digital humanities project based out of the School of History, University College Dublin.  Links to podcasts from this and other Tudor & Stuart Ireland conferences, as well as past programmes and paper abstracts, are available visiting the conference series website, www.tudorstuartireland.com.

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The Sixth Annual Tudor & Stuart Ireland Interdisciplinary Conference was generously supported by the President’s Award for Research Excellence (awarded to Prof. Steven Ellis), NUI Galway, the School of Humanities, NUI Galway, the Moore Institute, NUI Galway, the Discipline of History, NUI Galway and the Society for Renaissance Studies.

The Sixth Annual Tudor and Stuart Ireland Conference was organised by Evan Bourke (NUIG), Dr Jeffrey Cox (UCD), Carla Lessing (NUIG) and Dr Bronagh McShane (NUIG).

Conference Twitter account: @TudorStuartIre

Conference Hashtag: #TSINUIG16

For more information about the Tudor & Stuart Conference series, or to contact the advisory committee visit our website at www.tudorstuartireland.com

 

Report by Dr Bronagh McShane (NUIG) and Dr Jeffrey Cox (UCD)

Report: World Shakespeare Congress

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After a solid week of Shakespeare-related talks and events as part of the World Shakespeare Congress programme, it’s hard to know what to say in summation. So I’ll confine myself to the satisfyingly large but manageable topic of, you guessed it, Shakespeare & Ireland.

It wasn’t hard to find connections between Shakespeare and Ireland in 2016, as abundantly obvious from the #Shakespeare400 programme of events running throughout the year and promoted on this blog. At the Congress, Irish academics were out in force, but the Irish connection didn’t stop there. The country’s first president, Douglas Hyde, was singled out in Gordon McMullan’s opening remarks at the Globe for his contribution to Sir Israel Gollancz’s A Book of Homage to Shakespeare (recently re-issued by Oxford University Press for the 100 year anniversary). McMullan dwelt on issues of translation, citing how Hyde’s contribution in Gaelic was in parts toned down by the translators to be less overtly anti-English.

The following day saw the Irish not simply spoken about, but speaking. Director Caroline Byrne took her place alongside directors from Serbia, Nigeria and the USA for a panel on Global Shakespeare led by Tom Bird on the Globe stage. She spoke eloquently about her desire to commemorate the women of 1916 Dublin who had been ‘airbrushed out of history’, and how that informed her production of The Taming of the Shrew that has just finished its run in the Globe theatre. While Tom Bird asked her and others on the panel whether there was any post-colonial unease engendered by Shakespeare, the answer was a polite but firm ‘No’ from all corners (although Arin Arbus of Theatre for a New Audience did speak of an insecurity with the language among American actors).

 

In terms of Irish academics/academics from Irish institutions, I’m very happy to report that there were more in attendance than any one delegate could see. Shakespeare in Ireland’s own Edel Semple (UCC) led a wonderful seminar on ‘Paratheatrical Entertainments in Shakespeare’s London’ with Donald Hendricks (Kansas State University), which had Tiffany Stern as a respondent. Colleague Andrew King (UCC) was also in illustrious company, appearing on a panel alongside Helen Cooper and Hester Lees-Jeffries. From Trinity there was Ema Vyroubalová as well as her PhD student Shauna O’Brien, while Emer McHugh did NUIG proud (hopefully she will be appearing on the blog again soon with her thoughts on Caroline Byrne’s Taming of the Shrew). Maynooth’s Stephen O’Neill carried the banner of Digital Shakespeare, and Queen’s Belfast had both faculty and post-graduates in attendance, including Mark Thornton Burnett, Mia Hewitt and Matt Williamson. Your current author, Derek Dunne, was pleased to be part of a great seminar on ‘Everyday Shakespeare’, and tried in vain to keep up with congress tweets #WSCongress16 [Forgive me if I’ve left anyone out – will happily amend]

The Congress had its flaws, and a quick look at the dearth of academic tweeters in attendance (perhaps 20 regular tweeters, plus more occasional users and institutional tweets) tells you something about the delegate demographic. This is inevitably linked to the high registration fee, which did not seem to justify itself either in terms of conference swag (SAA 2016 gave every attendee a brand new book), or swanky receptions (Globe coffee breaks did not extend to biscuits). Similarly, the conference programme was by no means state of the art, with neither Table of Contents nor Index (RSA’s app this year clearly pointed the way forward in this respect, but WSC failed to follow the signs). Questions have also been raised about issues of diversity, particularly gender, as eloquently argued by Nora Williams in a recent post on her blog. One thing I cannot complain about is the marginalisation of the Irish, who were centre-stage at various points throughout.