Parnassus Plays

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.259  Wednesday, 27 September 2017


From:        Gerald E. Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         September 26, 2017 at 5:37:26 PM EDT

Subject:    Parnassus Plays


While reading of the interesting life and times of Peter Ramus I “returned to Parnassus” years after my first looks. More alert these days (to some things), I noted Leishman’s description of Rawlinson D.398 (the sole source of The Pilgrimage and the First Part of The Return): “The scribe differs from the normal [of writers and printers] in employing v medially . . . although he often employs medial u as well. His use of the common Secretary abbreviation of final -es follows no consistent principle; he often uses it as a mere equivalent of -s, in such words as ‘its’, where final -e­ [is unlikely]. There are certain peculiarities of spelling, of which the most remarkable are the substitution of ‘the’ or ‘ye’ for ‘they’ and of ‘they’ for ‘the’, the omission of final -e in words ending in -ce, such as ‘onc’, ‘fenc’, ‘henc’ . . . . In the verse . . . punctuation is very light, and often entirely absent . . . in the prose it is also light, and often irrational. . . . [M]ost of these features are common, in varying degrees, to the MS. and printed texts of the Second Returne . . .” (7).


These traits figure prominently in the MS. playtext John of Bordeaux, which I conclude for many reasons to be a shorthand report. Because I suspect more than “the usual” texts of theatrical reporting (while no one else supposes any, any more), and because shorthand historically resorts to such usage, my thought is to investigate the Parnassus plays more thoroughly. Shorthand, of course, was not a Leishman subject.


Nevertheless, the first two editions (A & B, 1606) of the Second Returne (so-named to differentiate the first plays of the series), are also corrupt. The Halliwell-Phillipps (now Folger) MS. version differs from the printed texts to such extent that Macray (of facsimile fame) remarks that:


The new readings show how fair a field is really open to conjecture in . . . correction of old texts for which no MS. authority exists, and justify much of the conjectural criticism which is applied to Shakespearean difficulties” (Leishman, 12).


Leishman counts “362 certain or probable errors” in A corrected by the MS, which is also corrupt. I’ve not investigated much, partly because Leishman partly modernizes his texts; yet more shorthand-like evidence is apparent. To me, the possibility (probability) that the P-texts were recorded, four centuries before cell phones, is of ‘early modern’ interest. The same goes for Shakespeare texts, which the Oxford Shakespeare busily, late-modernly (Entropically? Hackathonly?) denies. We may owe a great deal more to stenographers than to those confined to the proverbial tower.


However, surrounded as I am by operating systems, not excepting the Battlewagon, I appreciate the fact that Parnassus manuscripts and editions are available Online, screenshot ready. It didn’t used-to-be that way. The problem: a lot of work. One must ‘undo’ the editing, to some extent (Control-Zzzzzz’s). I’m still waiting on the botched Lear and Richard Third editions; I may not get to the Parnassus plays.


The Bodleian MS. copies don’t show set directions or speech prefixes, seemingly because they’re written in red ink (the story of my life). These features are shorthand indicators—when applicable—as reporters “copied by the ear.” When I onc registered my arrival in red ink (on the not-yet-forgotten ‘Old S.P.’), the early modern xerox left me out. ‘Run Around’ a dozen times, I made a lot of money. But I didn’t press it.


Gerald E. Downs




CFP: Teaching Shakespeare In and Beyond the Classroom

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.258  Monday, 25 September 2017


From:        Nicholas Helms <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         September 20, 2017 at 12:08:13 PM EDT

Subject:    Call for Papers: Teaching Shakespeare In and Beyond the Classroom





February 23rd and 24th, 2018

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL


This conference invites papers that address teaching Shakespeare to non-English majors, whether those non-majors are students or member of local communities. We encourage papers from both academic and non-academic settings, including papers that consider dominant teaching philosophies and praxes currently in use in the university classroom and presentations considering various outreach programs. Papers may address any of the following:

  • Shakespeare and/or early modern drama in the general education college curriculum (literature, composition, theatre, education, etc.) and service classroom.
  • Shakespeare and/or early modern drama in detention and/or prison systems.
  • Shakespeare and/or early modern drama and adult community theatre and/or reading groups.
  • Shakespeare and/or early modern drama and children’s theatre and/or reading groups. 


Abstract Submission Deadline: 1 November 2017


Since the primary goal of the conference is to foster a pragmatic learning experience, we are interested in receiving abstracts for traditional, individual papers (15-20 minutes) as well as complete panels, digital humanities projects, and workshops. Advanced graduate students and early career faculty are encouraged to participate.


All papers must contribute to our understanding how better to introduce Shakespeare to first-time readers and/or viewers. Submit a 300-350 word abstract and 2-page cv to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject line “Abstract for Strode Conference” on or before 1 November 2017. 


As part of the conference, all participants will be invited to the Bama Theatre in downtown Tuscaloosa on the evening of February 23rd to screen the multi-award winning Still Dreaming, a recent documentary “about the powers of creativity, and how engaging in art-making can deeply enrich our lives at any age” that follows the production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at a retirement home. The filmmakers will be introducing their documentary and taking questions after the screening.


This conference is hosted by the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies and cosponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Alabama.


Questions should be directed via email to M. Tyler Sasser (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) & Nicholas Helms (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).



Dr. Nicholas R. Helms

Instructor of English 

The Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies

The University of Alabama



SHAKESPEARE'S WOMEN at Fairleigh Dickenson University

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.256  Thursday, 14 September 2017


From:        Harry Keyishian <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         September 12, 2017 at 2:11:08 PM EDT

Subject:    SHAKESPEARE'S WOMEN at Fairleigh Dickenson University


The topic for the 2017 annual Shakespeare Colloquium at the Florham campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University is “Shakespeare’s Women.” The event will take place on Saturday, October 21 from 9:30-3:30 in Room S-11 (Sturchio Hall) in the Science Building. Sturchio Hall is handicap-accessible.


This will be the 25th year of these day-long Shakespeare gathering, which are free and open to the public.  New Jersey teachers are eligible for professional development hours for participating.  The Colloquium coordinator is Dr. Harry Keyishian, Professor Emeritus at Fairleigh Dickinson University. For further information, he may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The program is supported by the Columbia University Seminar on Shakespeare.


At 9:30, Dr. Iska Alter, Professor Emerita from Hofstra University, will discuss “Shakespeare’s Historical Queens,” focusing on the powerful and eloquent women in the early history plays and Richard III. Dr. Alter’s writings on Shakespeare, the Yiddish theater, American drama and ethnic American literature have been published in such journals as Theatre History Studies, Shakespeare Survey, Modern Drama and Shakespeare Bulletin as well as a number of edited collections.


At 10:45 Dr. Denise A.Walen of Vassar College discusses “Shakespeare’s Disappearing Women,” focusing on how important female roles have been cut in production over the years, including Juliet, Queen Margaret, Desdemona and Princess Kate, among others. Dr. Walen has directed many stage productions, including Twelfth Night and As You Like It. Her research and teaching focuses on dramatic literature and theory, theater history and women’s studies. She is the author of Constructions of Female Homoeroticism in Early Modern Drama and has published in Shakespeare Quarterly, Shakespeare Survey, andTheatre Journal, among other journals and edited collections.


After a lunch break from Noon–1 p.m., Dr. Phyllis Rackin, Professor Emerita at the University of Pennsylvania, will speak about “Cleopatras: What They Mean and Why They Matter.” Dr. Rackin discusses Shakespeare’s Cleopatra as well as other versions, ranging from ancient historians to modern films. A former president of the Shakespeare Association of America, Dr. Rackin  is author of four books on Shakespeare: Shakespeare’s TragediesStages of History: Shakespeare’s English ChroniclesShakespeare and Women, and, with Dr. Jean E. Howard, Engendering a Nation: A Feminist Account of Shakespeare’s English Histories. She has published more than 30 articles on Shakespeare and related subjects. She was voted one of the 25 Master Teachers of Shakespeare in the last 125 years in a survey of Shakespeare scholars conducted at the Folger Shakespeare Library.


At 2:15–3:30 p.m., veteran actress Ellen Barry will perform and discuss some of her favorite Shakespearean women, including those she has performed, such as Lady Percy, Queens Constance and Hermione, and Helena, among others. Ellen Barry has played more than 100 classic and contemporary roles in New York and regional theaters, including Tennessee Williams’ Blanche, Stella and Hannah; Shakespeare’s Kate Percy, Hermione and Constance; Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Maude in Bakersfield Mist and Nat in Rabbit Hole; and both Lorraine and Meg in Sam Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind. As Ella in Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman she won an Off-Off Broadway Award, and for Vivian Bearing in Wit she received a Michigan Best Leading Actress award from the Detroit Free Press. Her one-woman show, Lizzie Borden at Eight O’Clock, has played at venues in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She and her late husband, Paul Barry, founded the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival (now Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey).


Harry Keyishian

Professor Emeritus of English

Director Emeritus, FDU Press

Campus at Florham

Fairleigh Dickinson University

285 Madison Avenue, Madison.New Jersey 07940



Peter Hall from The Shakespeare Blog

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.257  Thursday, 14 September 2017


From:        Herbert Weil <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         September 14, 2017 at 9:34:00 AM EDT

Subject:    Peter Hall from The Shakespeare Blog


The Shakespeare blog


Peter Hall and Shakespeare 

Posted: 13 Sep 2017 10:45 PM PDT


Sir Peter Hall


On 15 September 2017 theatres in the West End of London and on Broadway will dim their lights in memory of Sir Peter Hall whose death, aged 86, was announced on 12 September. This has become a recognised tribute to the great in the world of theatre, and nobody is more worthy of it than he. The theatre, especially the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, would today be completely different without his powerful influence.


At the age of only 29 Peter Hall was appointed to run the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he was already working as a director. His appointment must have come as something of a surprise since his reputation had been made by directing modern plays. It followed years under the leadership of Anthony Quayle, a distinguished actor and director who used his many connections to woo the biggest names in the London theatre to the Warwickshire playhouse. Glamorous actors such as Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Ralph Richardson, John Gielgud and Michael Redgrave, sumptuous settings and costumes, ensure that we look back on the 1950s as a bit of a golden age. Quayle’s years were successful, particularly in raising the profile of the Stratford theatre, but there was an acceptance that it could not last.


He shocked traditionalists, setting about changing everything. Gone were the stars, or at least most of them, and in came young actors, directors and designers. He rightly claimed that these young, talented artists would themselves become stars, and he brought in three-year contracts that gave them some stability. Among them were Peter O’Toole, Ian Richardson and Ian Holm.


He gave the theatre a forward-looking name: the Royal Shakespeare Theatre instead of Shakespeare Memorial Theatre and introduced changes that must have changed the experience of playgoing for audiences. He took away the velvet curtain and painted over the fire curtain that featured a scene of Shakespeare standing in the Warwickshire countryside.  After a couple of uncertain years Hall came up with the production that would define the fledgling RSC: The Wars of the Roses. Working with John Barton the three Henry VI plays (considered virtually unplayable) were conflated into two and with Richard III were played as a trilogy that could be seen in a day. The plays were performed on a single set designed by John Bury, with no decorative flourishes, and costumes that were similarly bold, but not sumptuous. Although young actors took many of the main roles Hall had not parted with all of them, notably Peggy Ashcroft, a past Cleopatra and Rosalind who played Queen Margaret in all three parts.  It was a triumph.


The Wars of the Roses looked historical, if not conventional. It was another production, in 1965, that announced to the world that Shakespeare at Stratford was modern. The young, gangly and not very heroic-looking David Warner was cast as Hamlet. He had already appeared as Henry VI in the Wars of the Roses. While the older generation wore conventional costumes, Warner’s Hamlet wore a costume accessory that immediately connected him to teenagers: a long red knitted scarf. Teenagers knitted their own red scarves and wore them to performances, and many theatre aficionados now in their sixties and seventies date their love of Shakespeare to attending either The Wars of the Roses or Hamlet.


Hall developed the idea of the Stratford company having a permanent London home to house transfers as well as modern plays. Shakespeare was treated as a political writer as relevant as any contemporary author. Hall wrote about the Henry VI plays “We are forced to experience the passionate responsibility of mother to son, of king to country, of people to king, of blood to blood.” These dynamic changes transformed the RSC in just a few years, attracting a younger, politically-aware audience.


Tributes to Sir Peter Hall have been written by everybody in the world of the arts. If you have missed it, an edition of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row included interviews with many distinguished people including the man who followed him in running the RSC, Trevor Nunn. This link is to a BBC 4 documentary Sir Peter Hall Remembered. 




Third Time’s a Charm (or Is It the Fourth?)

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.255  Tuesday, 12 September 2017


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Subject:    Third Time’s a Charm (or Is It the Fourth?)


Well, once again, I made some sort of mistake and the Text Hackathlon link in my announcement did not work. I will check the link below several times to make sure that the problem does not occur again.






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