Shakespeare and Performance (workshop)

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For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

This was a spring weekend workshop held from February 7 to February 8, 2003.

Shakespeare's plays are unrivaled in their dual appeal: few other dramatists are so widely read as literature and also performed as living theatre. This dual canonicity presents some unique opportunities for thinking about the relations between often competing modes of cultural production (such as literature, theatre, publishing, and performance) and for considering larger questions about the function of writing-or the dramatic text-in performance. How, for instance, do the circumstances of early-modern writing and performance relate to the landscape of contemporary theatre? Does the text have an "authorizing" role in performance? Do Shakespeare's plays dramatize an inherently unstable relationship between the script and its enactment? Will the interface between text and performance change, now that we may be in the waning days of print culture? Is it possible to use Shakespeare to generate a larger critique of performance? This weekend workshop explored some of these questions as well as others that may arise out of participants' own research and teaching. To preserve the conversational nature of the program, participation was limited to fifty. A brief selection of critical/theoretical readings was assigned. A Friday evening performance of Twelfth Night by Folger Theatre provided a case-in-point. On Saturday, Robert Weimann and W. B. Worthen each made formal presentations, and Gail Kern Paster moderated an afternoon discussion of the issues raised in the morning sessions.

Directors: Robert Weimann is Professor Emeritus of Drama at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of many books, most notably in English Shakespeare and the Popular Tradition (1987), Structure and Society in Literary History (1984), Authority and Representation in Early Modern Discourse (1996), and Author's Pen and Actor's Voice: Playing and Writing in Shakespeare's Theatre (2000).

W. B. Worthen is Professor of Theatre in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Shakespeare and the Authority of Performance (1997), Modern Drama and the Rhetoric of Theater (1992), and The Idea of the Actor: Drama and the Ethics of Performance (1984).