Introducing a new Colloquy Format

For the Tenth Biennial Blackfriars Conference, colloquies will take one of three formats: Research Paper Discussion, Actor Facilitated Exploration, and Round Table Discussion. All colloquies are 75-minute sessions. This new format paves the way for focused, research-driven exploration and discussion of Early Modern theatre practice and academia.

Research Paper Discussion:

Research Paper Discussion colloquies are limited to nine participants. Participants are required to submit an 8-10 page paper and abstract on the subject of their colloquy by September 1, 2019. Papers will be distributed to all colloquy participants and each paper should be read by participants prior to the start of the conference. Abstracts will be shared with all conference attendees and auditors, who will receive a copy at the start of the colloquy. Participants will briefly provide an overview of their paper during the colloquy; the majority of the colloquy will be dedicated to a discussion led by the colloquy leader and a question and answer with both the colloquy participants and auditors.

Actor Facilitated Exploration:

Actor Facilitated Exploration colloquies are limited to five participants. The colloquy leader will choose a piece of text to explore within the colloquy. The text can be a single scene, a single moment, or a selection of scenes and/or moments. Colloquy participants will work with ASC or MFA actors to explore the possibilities within the text. Colloquy participants should collaborate with one another prior to the start of the conference on what they wish to explore during the colloquy. Actor scripts are due by September 15, 2019.

Round Table Discussion:

Round Table Discussion colloquies are limited to nine participants. The colloquy leader will choose an article, set of articles, or book relating to the subject of the colloquy for all participants to read prior to the start of the conference. Participants should submit one to three discussion questions or points of interest to their colloquy leader by September 15, 2019. The colloquy itself will consist of a discussion, led by the colloquy leader, among all colloquy participants on the selected writings. The discussion will be followed by a question and answer period with colloquy auditors.

2019 Blackfriars Conference colloquies

Research Paper Discussion

Fandom and Early Modern Theatre

This colloquy asks both how fan communities have shaped the early modern stage – both historically and in contemporary practice. The early modern theatre was a commercial enterprise that thrived on celebrity culture fed by consumers who might, in the twenty-first century, be defined as fans. This colloquy not only asks how fans have shaped the history of Shakespeare’s theatre, but thinks about how fans – who include academics, theatregoers, tourists, and teens – support the continued cultural relevance of a corpus of early modern texts to contemporary culture and facilitates the growth of such companies as the ASC, the RSC, the Globe.

Leader: Louise Geddes

Max # of Participants: 10

Leadership Pedagogy and Early Modern Drama

Some believe that leaders are born rather than created. However, recent pedagogical trends indicate that many believe leaders can be taught (if not created). One development in leadership pedagogy is the use of fiction as case studies to examine both strategies of leadership and the soft skills that leaders need to be successful. Publishing companies, like SAGE Business, are even publishing case studies for teachers and students based on classical literature, such Homer’s texts and Greek drama.

In this vein, I would like to invite the submission of research papers that explore aspects of leadership pedagogy using Early Modern drama. Possible areas of interest:

  • exploring examples of both good and bad leaders and what can be learned by their successes and failures
  • focusing on specific traits in a character, such as decision making or emotional intelligence
  • examining rhetoric as a tool of leadership
  • using classroom activities that focus on scene work or role playing to examine leadership traits or to teach soft skills.

Priority will be given to papers that demonstrate practical approaches which participants and audience members can readily adopt (or adapt) for their classes.

Leader: Rhonda Knight

Max # of Participants: 12

Scholarship on Original Practices

Our colloquy’s theme will be a based on the new central mission of The Hare: An Online Journal of Untimely Reviews in Early Modern Theater. A publication of the Mary Baldwin Shakespeare and Performance program, The Hare will exclusively feature, as of late-October of this year, untimely reviews of old scholarship–with authors invited to interpret “old” creatively. We do not accept, however, traditional reviews of recent publications. These brief, provocative pieces revitalize current debates and approaches through the recovery and reassessment of neglected works¬–books or articles–that contain the potential for new conceptual frameworks and methodologies. The theme of this colloquy will be untimely reviews of scholarship in Original Practices. We invite scholars to submit 8 – 10 page reviews of ignored or potentially misunderstood old books or articles relevant to the Original Practices movement. Reviews may focus on old texts traditionally considered to be part of OP scholarship, and yet relegated to passing footnotes and bibliographies; or old texts not traditionally brought into dialogue with OP scholarship, and yet destined to invigorate contemporary analyses in this field. Depending on the nature of the work generated in the colloquy, there will be the potential for the publication of a special issue of The Hare based on Original Practices, featuring invited, revised versions of these colloquy papers.

Leader: Dr. Casey Caldwell

Max # of Participants: 10

Actor-Facilitated exploration

Staging Eavesdropping in Shakespeare

This colloquy will explore eavesdropping scenes in Shakespeare. While engaging our texts with actors, we will ask questions like: to what extent is eavesdropping contingent on physical proximity, and to what extent can it be performed at varying physical distances? What theatrical techniques enhance the suspension of disbelief, and how are these techniques layered in the scripts? How does movement help facilitate (or prevent) eavesdropping? At what point is eavesdropping a mere theatrical convention, and at what point is it a literary device that helps to further plot, character, or audience/actor relationships?

Leader: Emma Atwood

Max # of Participants: 5

The Tent Scene: Process & Playscape

In this session, scholars/practitioners are asked to bring methods for illuminating the tent scene from Julius Caesar (A4S3) as a dialectic of shared/inter-acted text – conjoining your approaches with a rehearsal/performance technique called ‘The 4-Stage Exercise,’ (developed by Gary Logan in response to seeing Patrick Tucker’s original ‘Cue-Script’ work, then paired with inspiration from Sandy Meisner) in seeking methods to maximize both depth & spontaneity in reanimating the textual interplay of Shakespeare.

The ‘4-Stage Exercise” includes removal of the “cue” convention: each character freed to speak/interject once their requisite line-catalyst(s) are heard.

How does reframing the conception of ‘speech-giver’ as dominant in stage focus (in part modeled upon a readerly conceit of textual sequentialism) in favor of emphasizing how multiple speakers may persuasively inter-act with/upon each other (fundamental to cue-script conceits and methodologies) work to enfranchise students/performers/audience? What recalibrations of dynamic soundscape and dramatic spectacle, as well as potential political ramifications in terms of textual ownership & disruption, emerge from these processes?

What other vectors & illuminations may the tent scene serve, that strike participants as worthwhile to explore in reanimating this text?

Leader: Theo Black

Max # of Participants: 4

The power of the Blackfriars — Finding the human and three dimensional in Jacobean staging

Working with Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi we will examine the Duchess/Antonio section of Act 1 Scene 3 and explore the architecture of the text to unlock its painfully organic and fragile beauty. The primary tools are “turns” (changes in target, tactic, and emotional state) and “point of view” (personal momentary connection with the audience). We will also investigate ways to discover and activate the undercurrent of pain and longing that is so humanly palpable in the text.

Leader: Christopher Marino

Max # of Participants: 14

Round Table Discussions

Embedded Performance Studies Scholars

Confluenza: Embedded Performance Studies Scholars with “Confluence of Interest.” The colloquy will invite those who are embedded scholars with formal relationships to specific theater companies as well as those who would like to write about productions with which they were involved in a research capacity (i.e. — as dramaturge) to discuss how to approach productions on which they have consulted in subsequent scholarly research. I borrow the notion of a “confluence of interest” from the Journal of the American Medical Association (2015) to describe not a disease, but a research relationship of close collaborative proximity, which nevertheless works to mitigate bias. The best articulation of a performance studies scholar’s confluence of interest that I have yet seen appears in the Preface to Paul Menzer’s Shakespeare in the Theatre: The American Shakespeare Center (2017). There, Menzer details his quarter-century-plus relationship with the ASC as fan, employee, board member, and Director of the Shakespeare and Performance graduate program at Mary Baldwin University, “which operates in partnership with the ASC” (xv). Menzer traces the razor-thin line separating his critical, scholarly work from the creative endeavors of the ASC, noting that the relationship “grants me unusual insight . . . into the company and unrivalled access to its operations past and present” (xv) – insight that constitutes the precise kind of expertise rigorous performance studies scholarship needs, but that can raise concerns about scholarly objectivity.

Leader: Regina Buccola

Max # of Participants: 9

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

Shakespeare’s plays are chock full of violence: from the famous duels of Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Richard II, to the full-scale wars depicted in plays such as Macbeth, Richard III, and Henry V, to the moments of intimate violence and grisly murder in plays such as Othello, Titus Andronicus, and Coriolanus, to potential moments of more slapstick comedic violence in plays such as Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Twelfth Night. This violence is immediate and present, an undeniable part of the Elizabethan world picture and, thus, represented liberally in Shakespeare’s plays. Perhaps the only thing more prevalent than instances of actual violence in Shakespeare are instances of the language of violence being used to describe a character or situation. Tybalt is characterized using coded language from Elizabethan dueling manuals, Sir Toby Belch uses duello code to goad Viola into defending her “manhood” from “challenger” Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Helen and Parolles use the language of war to discuss the tribulations of the virgin against the assaults of men. In this roundtable, participants are invited to imagine the language of violence as a vital lens through which to examine Shakespeare’s plays. What revelations does this bring about Shakespeare’s characters? What insight can this lend to Shakespeare’s works? What can this help us to discover about performance? And, perhaps most importantly, what does it mean for contemporary audiences that Shakespeare’s plays are so heavily coded with period violence? Do audiences need to understand duello code to fully understand Shakespeare’s plays?

Leader: Danielle Rosvally

Max # of Participants: 8

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

The question of access is embedded in the American Shakespeare Center’s mission, the mission of theatre companies who share its approach to revealing text and stagecraft, and the many teachers and directors who share its commitment to train audiences, students, and artists. How can we best provide access to the early modern text? To its demands of staging? To its language? These are the questions that drive not only pedagogical approaches to the plays of Shakespeare and the early modern period, but to the artistry on stages across the country and world.

While much of the conversation in classrooms, rehearsal rooms, and in training contexts centers around revealing the text and, to a great degree, the historical context of early modern performance, relatively little discussion has taken place around the function of concept and artistic vision and its service of (or its ability to obscure) access, and the tension of concept and vision against close reading, textual primacy, and staging conditions.

What, for example, does it mean to access to relocate Shakespeare to the Empire period? To World War II? To the Spanish American war? Can an original practices production set in 1950s Hawaii be accessible? How does one costume a performance in contemporary dress while being sensitive to intergenerational access points? Does song choice, such as in preshow music or with a modern interpolation of a song into the text, enable or hinder access points? What happens if the more accessible choice is the replacement of a troublesome word in the text (i.e., “niggardly”) or the substitution of an actor of color for a fair-haired Portia — one that requires excision or replacement of the text? Are single-gender performances by definition inaccessible? Are Shakespeare companies colonizers?

This roundtable discussion invites directors, artistic directors, and actors, particularly those engaged at the professional and collegiate level, and especially those artists who struggle with access to wrestle with these and other related questions.

Leader: Jeremy Fiebig

Max # of Participants: 16

Hearing in Shakespeare

Our colloquy will explore the multifarious ways in which speech and sounds operate on Original Practices as well as contemporary stages. Subtopics include conjunctions/disjunctions between what characters hear and what audiences hear; special listening situations such as eavesdropping, overhearing, and mishearing; hearing onstage dialects and other languages; non-verbal or meta-verbal relationships embodied in noise and sounds. We welcome participants who wish to explore such questions as How does seeing work with hearing—or against hearing? How does hearing work from an actor’s point of view—i.e., what is the interface between hearing backstage and hearing onstage? How do silence and sound work together to produce specific effects? How do words and music fit together? How do onstage characters or situations “use” music thematically? How do or should contemporary productions use music in ways analogous to Shakespeare’s use of familiar ballad tunes? And finally, what notable differences might there be between the way audiences hear on an indoor stage like The Blackfriars as opposed to an outdoor stage like The Globe?

Leaders: Walter Cannon and Laury Magnus

Max # of Participants: 10