On odd numbered years since the first October the Blackfriars Playhouse opened, scholars from around the world have gathered in Staunton, during the height of the Shenandoah Valley’s Fall colors, to hear lectures, see plays, and explore early modern theatre. In 2015, the American Shakespeare Center’s Education and Research Department will once again host Shakespeareans, scholars and practitioners, to share ideas about Shakespeare in the study and Shakespeare on the stage and to find ways that these two worlds – sometime in collision – can collaborate.
The majority of events – papers, plays, workshops – take place in the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre, the Blackfriars Playhouse. This conference distinguishes itself from saner conferences in a variety of other ways. First, to model the kind of collaboration we think possible we encourage presenters to feature actors as partners in the demonstration of their theses. For instance, in 2009, Gary Taylor’s keynote presentation “Lyrical Middleton” featured ASC actors singing and dancing to the songs in Middleton’s plays. Second, we limit each paper session to six short papers (10 minutes for solo presentations, 13 minutes for presentations with actors). Third, we enforce this rule by ursine fiat – a bear chases from the stage those speakers who go over their allotted time.
Delegates also attend all of the plays in the ASC 2015 Fall Season – Antony & Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Henry VI, Part I – and, for the past several conferences, bonus plays written by Shakespearean colleagues and performed by actors in the Mary Baldwin College MFA in Shakespeare in Performance program. The spirit of fun that imbues the conference manifests itself in the annual Truancy Award, for the sensible conferee who – visiting the Shenandoah Valley at the height of Fall – has the good sense to miss the most sessions.
The 2015 gathering will honor Barbara Mowat and will include keynote addresses from Ayanna Thompson, Tim Carroll, and Gina Bloom.
ASC Education and Research extends this call for papers on any matters to do with the performance of early modern drama (historical, architectural, political, dramatical, sartorial, medical, linguistical, comical, pastoral) to all interested parties. As in past years, participants may submit an abstract for consideration in one of 11 plenary sessions, each of which features only 6-7 papers. The deadline to submit an abstract for consideration in the plenary sessions is 10 April 2015 (notification and announcement by 4 May). Our colloquies will be different in 2015 than at past conferences, as we are soliciting proposals to lead these sessions (deadline 10 April). We will post the 11 selected topics by May 4th, and those who wish to register to participate in a session will be able to do so after notifications regarding plenary selections go out. Registration for participation in colloquies and workshops will end 1 June. Participation in a colloquy session will be mutually exclusive from presenting in a plenary session.
Ayanna Thompson joined George Washington University in 2013 as Professor of English. Previously she worked at Arizona State University as Associate Dean of Faculty and Professor of English. Professor Thompson specializes in Renaissance drama and focuses on issues of race in/as performance. She is the author of Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America (Oxford University Press, 2011) and Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage (Routledge, 2008), and she is the editor of Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) and Colorblind Shakespeare: New Perspectives on Race and Performance (Routledge, 2006). Professor Thompson’s essays have been published in numerous influential journals, and her research has influenced both scholars and theatre/film practitioners. Because of her stature in Shakespeare studies, she was elected Trustee of the Shakespeare Association of America.
Gina Bloom is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Davis, where she serves on the executive committee for the Performance Studies doctoral program. She is the author of Voice in Motion: Staging Gender, Shaping Sound in Early Modern England (U Penn Press, Material Texts series), which received the Best Book of the Year award in 2008 from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women. She has published numerous articles on early modern drama, theater history, and performance studies and was recently elected to serve on the executive committee for the Shakespeare Division at the Modern Language Association. Her current book projects include a monograph on games and spectatorship in the early modern theater and a co-edited collection (with Tom Bishop and Erika Lin) on games and early modern drama. She is also the Project Director for Play the Knave, a 3D motion-capture video game about Shakespeare performance currently being developed at the ModLab at UC Davis.
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Actors' Renaissance Season