Blackfriars CONFERENCE: 2021

The 11th Blackfriars Conference will take place October 28-30, 2021.
Coming Soon: More information and our Call for Papers.
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In odd-numbered years since the first year that the Blackfriars Playhouse was open, scholars from around the world have gathered in Staunton, during the height of the Shenandoah Valley’s famed fall colors, to hear lectures, see plays, and learn about early modern theatre. In 2019, the American Shakespeare Center will once again host Shakespeareans, scholars and practitioners alike, to explore Shakespeare in the study and Shakespeare on the stage and to find ways that these two worlds – sometimes in collision – can collaborate.

Past conferences have included such notable scholars as Andrew Gurr, the “godfather” of the Blackfriars Playhouse, Bill Rauch, Dympna Callaghan, Russ McDonald, Ayanna Thompson, Gary Taylor, Gina Bloom, Stephen Greenblatt, Ann Thompson, Roz Knutson, Abigail Rokison, Tina Packer, Scott Kaiser, Gail Kern Paster, Stephen Booth, Tiffany Stern, and George T. Wright

Each year we also honor a scholar who has made great impacts in the theatre field. Previous honorees have included C. Walter Hodges (2005), Alan Dessen (2007), Andrew Gurr (2009), Stephen Booth (2011), George Walton Williams (2013), Barbara Mowat (2015), Richard Hay (2017), and Roz Knutson (2019).

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; in 2015, Tina Packer and James Loehlin worked with ASC actors on scenes from Antony and Cleopatra with Blackfriars Conference participants witnessing rehearsal room challenges. 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 – presenters who go over time must exit, pursued by a bear.

One to four short paper sessions are held daily during the conference, with approximately four to six papers each. Each session lasts 60 to 75 minutes. Each day of the conference will also include roundtable discussions, chaired by MBU faculty or ASC research staff, with up to 10 participants discussing specific areas of interest, which could include cross-gendered casting, race, staging disability, new media tools and the interaction with performance, original practice/staging, and rhetoric. Early risers can also take advantage of our one hour Wake Up workshops prior to the start of the day offered by the education staff.

Stay up to date.



Download 2019 Conference Program

7:00-9:00 PM
Early Arrival Event: Screening of Remembering Shakespeare at the Staunton Visulite Cinema

Remembering Shakespeare directed by Cecilia Rubino — a film which explores new ways of thinking about memory and Shakespeare’s words in our digital age where memory itself is at risk.

10:00-10:45 AM
Welcome Statements
10:45-11:30 AM
Keynote: David Sterling Brown

of Binghamton University, SUNY

Power, Privilege, and Shakespeare’s “Other Race Plays”

1:00-2:30 PM
Paper Session I

Moderated by Doreen Bechtol, Mary Baldwin University

with Joseph Stephenson, Robin Bates, Michael Wagoner, Elizabeth Sharrett, Deneen Senasi, Kathryn Moncrief & Brendon Fox, and Stephen Wittek

2:45-4:00 PM

Staging Sessions:

Bonduca Staging Session

led by Tina Romanelli of Meredith College

Down in Smoke – Nero and the Ego of the Pathetic: The Tragedy of Nero Staging Session

led by Melinda Marks, Alumni of Mary Baldwin University


Fandom and Early Modern Theatre Colloquy

led by Louise Geddes

Leadership Pedagogy and Early Modern Drama Colloquy

led by Rhonda Knight

Staging Eavesdropping in Shakespeare Colloquy

led by Emma Atwood

4:15-5:30 PM
Paper Session II

Moderated by Marc Connor, Washington & Lee University

with Michael Hirrel, Grace Tiffany, Matteo Pangallo, Lauren Robertson, Gretchen York, and Sarah Neville

8:00-10:30 PM
ASC Performance: Caesar and Cleopatra
10:30-10:45 PM
8:00-9:00 AM
Wake-Up Workshop: Audience Contact

with Lia Wallace, ASC College Prep Programs Manager

9:00-10:30 AM
Paper Session III

Moderated by Martha Walker, Mary Baldwin University

with Mary Finch, Claire Kimball, Jane Wells, Robert Miola, Ian Borden & Wesley Broulik, and Barbara Bono

10:45-11:30 AM
Keynote: Irina Brook

of Théâtre National de Nice

“Mom, you mean Shakespeare wrote plays in English too?”

12:00-1:00 pm

Mary Baldwin Shakespeare & Performance
Alumni Luncheon

at The Wharf, 19 West Johnson Street

1:00-1:30 PM
Honorific: Roslyn Knutson

Professor Emerita University of Arkansas – Little Rock
Roz Knutson Means Business

1:45-3:00 PM
Paper Session IV

Moderated by Brian Granger, Mary Baldwin University

with Sae Kitamura, David Landon, Jennifer Linhart Wood & Emily Russell, James Loehlin, Catherine Loomis, and Dawn Tucker

3:15-4:30 PM
Staging Sessions:

The Spanish Tragedy Staging Session

led by Annalisa Castaldo of Widener University

A Fair Quarrel: An “Honorable” Dilemma Staging Session

led by Bill Gelber of Texas Tech University


The Power of the Blackfriars – Finding the Human and Three-Dimensional in Jacobean Staging Colloquy

led by Christopher Marino

Hearing in Shakespeare Colloquy

led by Walter Cannon and Laury Magnus

Scholarship on Original Practices Colloquy

led by Dr. Casey Caldwell

4:45-6:00 PM
Paper Session V

Moderated by Christopher Hodgkins, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

with Celia Madeoy & Stephanie Shirilian, Kate McPherson, Eric Brinkman, Clara Biesel, Stacey Jocoy, and Hailey Bachrach

8:00-10:15 PM
ASC Performance: Julius Caesar
10:15-10:30 PM
8:00-9:00 AM
Wake-Up Workshop: Rhetoric

with Aubrey Whitlock, ASC Education Associate

9:00-10:30 AM
Paper Session VI

Moderated by Ty Buckman, Mary Baldwin University

with Caroline Latta, Holly Pickett, Emily MacLeod, Matthew Davis, Donovan Sherman, and Chelsea Phillips

10:45-11:30 AM
Keynote: Ethan McSweeny

of the American Shakespeare Center

Towards a Slow Theatre: Artistic Leadership and Classical Theatre in the Digital Age

12:00-1:00 pm
Shakespeare in Three Panels: the Arts of Early Modern Stick Figures

with Good Tickle Brain‘s Mya Gosling

at The Wharf, 19 West Johnson Street

1:00-2:30 PM
Paper Session VII

Moderated by Mary Hill Cole, Mary Baldwin University

with Deb Streusand, Richard Preiss, Elizabeth Tavares, Casey Caldwell, Lia Wallace, and Sid Ray

2:45-4:00 PM
Staging Sessions:

Bears, Pair of Freres, or Fair? Staging Session

led by Garry Walton of Meredith College

Murderous Lucretia in The Devil’s Charter Staging Session

led by Roslyn Knutson, Professor Emerita of University of Arkansas –  Little Rock and Evelyn Tribble of University of Connecticut


“Them’s Fightin’ Words”: The Language of Violence in Shakespeare’s Works Colloquy

led by Danielle Rosvally

Accessing Shakespeare Beyond Text: Concept, Vision, Age, Gender, Race, and Identities Colloquy

led by Jeremy Fiebig

Embedded Performance Studies Scholars Colloquy

led by Regina Buccola

The Tent Scene: Process & Playscape Colloquy

led by Theo Black

4:15-5:30 PM
Paper Session VII

Moderated by Amy Cohen, Randolph College

with Paul Menzer, Darren Freebury-Jones, Ann Pleiss Morris, Tiffany Stern, and Matthew Davies

5:30 pm
Happy Hour: Sponsored by Mary Baldwin Shakespeare & Performance

at The Wharf, 19 West Johnson Street

8:00-10:30 PM
ASC Performance: Antony and Cleopatra
10:30-10:45 PM 
11:00 PM
Q1 Hamlet 

Presented by Steadfast Shakespeare Company

at The Wharf, 19 West Johnson Street

9:00-10:30 AM
Paper Session IX

Moderated by Dennis Henry, Indiana University, Kokomo

with Alice Dailey, Eric Johnson, Cassidy Cash, Steven Urkowitz, Bob Jones, and Matthew Kozusko

10:45-11:30 AM
Keynote: Katherine Rowe

of College of William & Mary

A Shakespearean’s Path to Leadership

1:00-1:45 PM

Stringing together a more complete line of theatrical practice from today to 1590

led by Beth Burns of The Hidden Room Theatre

2:00-3:15 PM
Paper Session X

Moderated by James Keegan, University of Delaware

with Janna Segal, Kerry Cooke, Christina Romanelli, Kimberly West, Caroline Lion, and Caroline Bicks

5:00-7:00 PM
ASC Performance: The Willard Suitcases
7:30-9:00 PM
9:00-11:00 PM
Special Staged Reading:
Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries Winner
Keene by playwright Anchuli Felicia King Inspired by Othello and set at a conference of Shakespeare scholars, Anchuli Felicia King’s Keene tells the story of a lone African-American PhD candidate named Tyler and his thesis on Ira Aldridge, the first black man to play Othello.  Into the mix comes Kai, a Japanese musicologist with an obscure paper, who falls in love at first sight with Tyler. At night, Tyler dreams of Ira and Kai dreams of Tyler, and neither of them see coming the betrayal of a close ally.  A heartfelt ode to the experience of always being the second-class genius of color, Keene is an incredible cocktail of early career academia, Shakespeare’s Othello, and the power of American pop.
9:00-10:30 AM
Paper Session XI

Moderated by Kelly Malone, Sewanee: The University of the South

with Molly Harper, Thomas Sellari, Garry Walton, and Stephen Buhler

10:30-11:15 AM
11:15 AM – 12:00 PM
Emerging Scholar Keynote: Katherine Walker

of Mount Holyoke College

Devilish Instinct and Knowledge in Doctor Faustus

Download 2019 Conference Program