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King Lear, Dash Arts, and Global Shakespeare: Summary

This page is part of the Global Shakespeare archive. Find out more...

  • For more information on global Shakespeare studies at Queen Mary University of London, please contact Professor David Schalkwyk, Chair in Shakespeare Studies at QMUL.
  • For more information on global Shakespeare studies at the University of Warwick, please head to the Global Shakespeare Research Group.

    At the beginning of 2015 Gobal Shakespeare received a grant of some £23,000 from Queen Mary University's Humanities and Social Sciences Collaboration Fund to support a project led by Tim Supple of Dash Arts to hold a series of workshops with theatre practitioners from around the world (and especially from different performance traditions) to work on Shakespeare’s King Lear. The ultimate goal is to stage a multi-lingual and multicultural production of Shakespeare’s tragedy along the lines of Supple’s acclaimed 2006 multi-lingual A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The local purpose of the workshop was to create a small, controlled research laboratory that would examine—in a collaborative, workshop setting—the ways in which bringing different performance traditions to bear on the potential meanings of Shakespeare’s text might offer a variety of different ways of embodying and performing King Lear.

    The first workshop, with twelve actors from the UK, Russia, India, South Korea, Tanzania, Belgium, the USA, France, Italy and Morocco, was held from 1-11 June 2015 at the Arts Centre of the University of Warwick, in collaboration with the Warwick Theatre Department. Participants represented Stanislavski’s “Russian School”, Peter Brooks’s Theatre du Nord, the ancient Indian Koodyattum, the Grotowski school, Ariane Mnouchkine’s Circe du Soeleil, Korean clown traditions, the Italian commedia del arte, and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

    David, Preti and Katherine from the Global Shakespeare team were participant observers in this workshop, doing interviews with the actors, recording observations about its exercises, rehearsals and goals, taking part in many of the exercises, and supervising its audio and video recording for the Dash Arts/Global Shakespeare archive. Two striking observations were 1) the degree to which Shakespeare can be understood “without his language”, and 2) the ways in which each acting tradition contains an implicit or explicit theory of the emotions and their modes of expression and representation. The outcomes of this workshop will include the editing and publication, via the Global Shakespeare website, of the process of the workshop, and the exploration, in collaboration with Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary, of emotions and their relation to culture, language, history and geography through Shakespeare. Global Shakespeare is working with Dash Arts on the further workshops in the King Lear Project.

    The actors’ workshop was accompanied by a parallel public programme of lectures, seminars, workshops and discussions aimed at schools, students, and the general public.