Shakespeare in Action
Shakespeare in Action: New Interdisciplinary Approaches is a 3-day conference that explores new ways of putting Shakespeare into action by looking at the intersections between Shakespearean texts and performances, disciplinary innovation, and the multiple ways in which these interact with history, politics and culture. Using Shakespeare’s unique status as a shared, global cultural resource, the conference seeks to promote conversations and projects that transcend subject boundaries, such as those between literature, creative writing, history, philosophy, music and media studies, education, and the performing arts.
This major international conference invites academics, practitioners, and educators from across the world to consider how we might utilise new interdisciplinary approaches to develop innovative ways of performing, writing about, and teaching Shakespeare.
Call for Papers
British Shakespeare Association
Shakespeare in Action: New Interdisciplinary Approaches
University of Surrey
16-18 July, 2020
Plenary Speakers include: Professor Alison Findlay, University of Lancaster; Professor Diana Henderson, MIT; Kelly Hunter MBE, Artistic Director of Flute Theatre; Professor Ayanna Thompson, Arizona State University.
The University of Surrey is proud to host the 2020 British Shakespeare Association conference on the theme of “Shakespeare in Action: New Interdisciplinary Approaches”. The conference is supported by The Surrey Shakespeare Centre, Guildford School of Acting and the School of Literature and Languages.
The conference will explore new ways of putting Shakespeare into action looking at the intersections between Shakespearean texts and performances, disciplinary innovation, and the multiple ways in which these interact with history, politics and culture. Using Shakespeare’s unique status as a shared global cultural resource, the conference intends to promote conversations and projects that transcend subject boundaries: for example, between literature, creative writing, history, philosophy, geography, music and media studies, education, and the performing arts. This major international conference invites academics, practitioners, and educators from across the world to consider how we might utilise new interdisciplinary approaches in order to develop innovative ways of performing, writing about, and teaching Shakespeare.
BSA 2020 also features:
- An interactive open rehearsal of Romeo and Juliet by Butterfly Theatre Company (http://www.butterflytheatre.com) and a Q&A session with the company founder Aileen Gonsalves and Tracy Irish
- Shakespeare Showcase performed by the students of Guildford School of Acting
- A pop-up Gielgud Room where you can listen to recordings in the comfort of a 1950s ‘front room.’
- A ‘Shakespearean’ High Tea by the lake
Further information about the conference, including additional events, will be posted on the conference twitter feed @BSA2020.
There are a number of ways to participate in BSA 2020:
- Submit an abstract for a 20 minute paper on a relevant subject. Abstracts (100 words) and a short biography to be submitted by 15 January 2020 to email@example.com
- Submit a proposal for a panel session consisting of three 20-minute papers on a relevant theme. Abstracts for all three papers (100 words each), a rationale for the panel (100 words) and short speaker biographies to be submitted by 15 January 2020 to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Submit a proposal for a drama / pedagogy workshop. An abstract outlining the focus and methods of the workshop (200 words) and short facilitator biography / biographies to be submitted by 15 January 2020 to email@example.com
- Submit an abstract to join a seminar. The seminar format involves circulating a short paper (max 3000 words) before the conference and then meeting to discuss all of the papers in Surrey. The maximum number of participants in a seminar is 15. To apply to be in a seminar, please submit a 100-word abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org, stating your seminar of preference by 15 January 2020. Seminars include:
“Circulating Shakespeare in Manuscript, Print and Bits”
Led by Georgianna Ziegler (Folger Shakespeare Library) and Andrew Murphy (Trinity College Dublin)
Over the centuries, Shakespeare’s text has actively moved from manuscript to print and back again, incorporated in a wide variety of formats. In recent years it has also circulated in various digital forms – by FTP, on CD-ROMs, via Websites. People have also moved the text by gifting it to family and friends and carrying it from place to place with them all over the world. Snippets have circulated in MS commonplace books, printed Shakespeare “diaries,” and in books of quotations. Shortened and “updated” versions of the text have moved from directors’ prompt copies to the stage and back to the page in acting editions sold to theatre-goers. Folio editions have been “perfected” by adding later manuscript copies of preliminary leaves or entire plays. Both poems and plays have been marketed in small sizes or e-book versions, perfect for the knapsack (as one edition advertised itself), or for travellers by train, and eventually car, and plane. In the digital realm it has been circulated for a variety of purposes and by an increasingly disparate range of agents. This seminar encourages participants to consider questions such as these. How has the active life of Shakespeare’s text affected the ways it is received by readers? How has it changed the text? In what ways has it enabled relationships among individuals or groups?
“Disability in Shakespeare”
Led by Susan Anderson (Sheffield Hallam University)
This seminar invites participants to examine disability in Shakespearean drama across time and to attend to the material, non-metaphorical bodies and minds of those implicated in early modern drama, whether as characters, performers, readers or audiences. Participants are particularly encouraged to examine both the ways in which disability is depicted within dramatic texts, and the ways in which disability features in varying contexts of production and reception (e.g. historical actors, contemporary casting practices, adaptations of Shakespeare and so on).
“Shakespeare and Asian Screens”
Led by Mark Thornton Burnett (Queen’s University Belfast)
In recent years, the study of Shakespeare on screen undergone a dramatic shift, with critics turning their attention increasingly towards the presence and significance of Shakespeare films in Asia. There have been studies, for example, of Shakespeare film adaptations in China, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand, while the importance of Shakespeare across India cinemas, and in a variety of Indian languages, is coming to be recognised. Via an interdisciplinary focus, this seminar aims to explore Shakespeare on Asian screens in a variety of registers – cinematic adaptation, manga cartoon, citation or fragment and filmed performance. We will be discussing connections between the Shakespearean text and its screen manifestation, considering new paradigms and approaches, and identifying the ways in which Shakespeare, in action, performs cultural and political work in Asian contexts.
“Shakespeare, Body and Mind”
Led by Jaq Bessell (University of Surrey)
The seminar interprets the theme of the conference in two ways:
- Action as the foundation of professional actor training, a term linked with Stanislavski and his legacy, but not exclusive to that tradition. We look forward to discussing “active” engagement with Shakespeare as a site for skills acquisition and expressivity, as well to evaluate Shakespeare’s contribution to actor training for an industry that is routinely regarded as a shifting landscape.
- Action as agency: How might an embodied approach to Shakespeare promote wellbeing? How are mental health issues depicted out on Shakespeare’s stage? What are the ethical and theatrical challenges of “playing madness” on Shakespeare’s stage? What, if anything, can Shakespeare teach us about empowerment, wellness, empathy, and mindfulness? Is Shakespeare really “good for you”?
Contributions on any of the following are welcome:
- Wellbeing and Mental Health in Shakespeare’s plays
- Playing “madness” on Shakespeare’s stages
- Shakespeare’s emotional framework
- The right to speak: anxiety and subjectivity in performance
- Embodied approaches to performing Shakespeare
- Mindfulness and Shakespeare
- Shakespeare and Depression
- Shakespeare, daily practice and wellbeing
- Intersections between actor training methodologies and CBT principles
The seminar welcomes contributions from practitioners such as workshop proposals or practical demonstrations, as well as papers from academics.
“Shakespeare and Decision-Making”
Led by Neema Parvini (University of Surrey)
Before we act, we must decide. Shakespeare often depicts characters taking decisions at moments of crisis, under pressure and uncertainty. Following the recent cognitive turn in Shakespeare studies, scholars have started to focus on how the plays represent cognitive and neurological decision-making processes. This seminar welcomes papers that focus on decision-making in Shakespeare. Themes for the session include:
- What is the relationship between Shakespeare’s characters and real people?
- How can cognitive studies help us understand decision-making in Shakespeare?
- In what ways did the early modern understanding of decision-making differ from our own?
- What is the relationship between decision-making and the early modern concept of “will”?
- What is the relationship between decision-making and rhetoric?
“Shakespeare and Mapmaking”
Led by Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam University) and Colm MacCrossan
Shakespeare lived in a period of extensive voyaging and intensive cultural exchange. This resulted in a continuous need for his contemporaries to redraw maps, both physical and mental. This seminar welcomes papers which consider any aspect of mapping in relation to the Shakespearean canon. Topics might include (but are not limited to) maps as physical objects; the use of map-related terminology and new geographical knowledge; ways of describing and conceptualising space; and productions of Shakespeare which engage with geopolitical issues.
“Shakespeare, Screen, Action”
Led by Susanne Greenhalgh (Roehampton University) and Ramona Wray (Queen’s University, Belfast)
This seminar is interested in the ways in which screen Shakespeare might be used in active ways to create social, political, ecological and other change. Contributions might focus on the documentary form, on community Shakespeare or on prison Shakespeare or might reflect on the appropriation of Shakespeare by film-makers exploring particular ‘issues’ or utilising feminist, queer or other emancipatory approaches. Discussion of all types of screen Shakespeare is welcomed as are interdisciplinary explorations of the theme.
“Teaching Shakespeare Seminar”
Led by Chris Green and Karen Eckersall of the BSA Education Committee
The seminar format involves circulating a short paper (2-3 pages) before the conference and then meeting to discuss all the papers in Surrey. The seminar will take place on Saturday 18th July 2020 and attendance is free for all school teachers.
Plenary: Alison Findlay
Alison Findlay is Professor of Renaissance Drama and Director of the Shakespeare Programme in the Department of English and Creative Writing. She specialises in sixteenth and seventeenth century drama and early modern women’s writing.
Plenary: Diana E. Henderson
Diana E. Henderson, Professor of Literature and MacVicar Faculty Fellow at MIT, is the author of Collaborations with the Past: Reshaping Shakespeare Across Time and Media and Passion Made Public: Elizabethan Lyric, Gender, and Performance. She edited Alternative Shakespeares 3 and A Concise Companion to Shakespeare on Screen, and is co-editor (with James R. Siemon) of the annual Shakespeare Studies, Volumes XLII- . Henderson has published more than 50 essays on Shakespeare, early modern gender studies, domestic and popular culture, poetry, drama, modern performance, Nahum Tate, pedagogy, Ulysses, and Indian cinema. She has worked as a professional dramaturg and theatrical consultant, collaborating with the RSC in the creation of an original play and a game prototype and working with numerous US-based companies, including the Actors’ Shakespeare Project, the New York Theater Workshop, and Potomac Theater Project. She is the PI for MIT’s online Global Shakespeares Merchant Module and has collaborated on aligned curricular initiatives. Henderson appeared on two episodes of the television series Shakespeare Uncovered and produced a documentary video based on MIT’s participation with the Compagnia de’ Colombari Merchant in Venice project. She is currently co-editing the Arden Research Handbook to Shakespeare and Adaptation with Stephen O’Neill and Shakespeare and Digital Pedagogy: Case Studies and Strategies with Kyle VItale, and serving as dramaturg for Karin Coonrod’s chamber opera based on the Anglo-Saxon poem about the Biblical heroine Judith. She was the 2013-14 President of the Shakespeare Association of America.
Plenary: Kelly Hunter MBE
Kelly Hunter MBE is a British film, television, radio, stage and musical actress, a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. She is a Laurence Olivier Award nominee and Radio Academy Award and TMA Awards winner. Hunter is the Founder and Artistic Director of Flute Theatre, a company which produces the works of William Shakespeare for interactive audiences. Through her work with autistic children she created and developed The Hunter Heartbeat Method, a distinctive methodology which uses Shakespeare’s rhythmic language and physical gesture to release communicative blocks within children with all levels of autism, including children who are non-verbal.
Plenary: Ayanna Thompson
Ayanna Thompson is director of the Arizona Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) at Arizona State University. She is the author of “Shakespeare in the Theatre: Peter Sellars” (Arden Bloomsbury, 2018), “Teaching Shakespeare with Purpose: A Student-Centred Approach” (Arden Bloomsbury, 2016), “Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America” (Oxford University Press, 2011), and “Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage” (Routledge, 2008). She wrote the new introduction for the revised Arden3 “Othello” (Arden, 2016), and is the editor of “Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance” (Palgrave, 2010) and “Colorblind Shakespeare: New Perspectives on Race and Performance” (Routledge, 2006). Professor Thompson was the 2018-19 president of the Shakespeare Association of America, and has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Marshall Scholars.
Registration for the conference will open in 2020.
To register, you must be a member of the BSA.
To join the BSA, click here.
Existing BSA members must log in to the BSA site and click the “Conference Registration” button in the Members area. You cannot access the registration form without first logging in.
Venue and Accommodation
Click here for information about the venue and travel options.
The University of Surrey offers a limited number of on-campus en-suite rooms at £50 per night, per person on Manor Park campus, a short 20 minute walk or 10 minute bus ride from Stag Hill campus where the conference will take place. Rooms may be booked when completing your registration. Due to limited availability, we strongly advise to secure these rooms when registering as they cannot be booked retrospectively.
If you prefer to stay in a hotel or B&B off campus, please see the recommended options.
Further information regarding accommodation options will be available on the website in January 2020.