Personal Encounters with Shakespeare: A Bissell Symposium

What makes someone devote a life to studying and staging the works of William Shakespeare? To explore the intersection of Shakespeare expertise and experience, the Bissell Symposium will bring together literature scholars and theater professionals to discuss their own engagement with Shakespeare's plays. In a series of sessions they will talk with each other and with the public about what first excited them about Shakespeare, what they find extraordinary about the plays, and how their professional work with Shakespeare affects their experiences of the plays. This two-day symposium also includes a keynote speaker as well as short readings and performances highlighting scenes and passages from the plays. Participants will discover new perspectives on Shakespeare and will be encouraged to engage personally with Shakespeare's plays. The Bissell Symposium, co-sponsored by the Theatre Arts Department and the Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature, is funded by an endowment founded by Howard S. Bissell.

All events are open to the public. Except for dinner, all events are free.

Thursday, February 6

12:30 - 1:30 pm
The Renner Theater
How Shakespeare Chose Me: "Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?"

A panel discussion with scholars and theater specialists, discussing their own personal "awakening" with regard to Shakespeare and why they chose/had to follow their passion.

4:00 - 5:00 pm
The Renner Theater
Searching and Researching the Plays: "Suit the action to the word, the word to the action"

An interactive session where the audience and experts work together to explore some interesting facet of Shakespeare's work. Small groups under the direction of Symposium participants will work to create something to share with others.

5:30 - 6:30 pm
Dix Dining Hall
Dinner and Discussion

Dinner with experts, faculty, and students that allows the continuation of interaction. Students can use a meal swipe for dinner; there is a small cost for faculty, staff, and the general public.

7:30 pm
Ballroom, Kennedy Center
Shakespeare WTF? (What's The Future?): "To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow"

Dessert and a keynote address concentrating on the challenges of relating Shakespeare's works to contemporary audiences, and the absolute need to do so.

Post Keynote Discussion
Ballroom, Kennedy Center
Continuation of "Searching and Researching the Plays"

Friday, February 7

10:00 -11:00 am
The Renner Theater
So What Are You Going To Do About It?: "Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more"

A concluding session that focuses on presenting ideas developed in the interactive sessions and discussions of what might be done to allow others their own personal encounter with Shakespeare.

Symposium Participants

Scott Wentworth (keynote speaker) is a twenty-year veteran of the Stratford Festival, where he has performed such roles as Tranio in Richard Monette’s landmark production of The Taming of the Shrew, Antony in Julius Caesar, Hubert in Robin Phillips’ King John, Iago in Brian Bedford’s Othello, the title role in Macbeth, and Bosola in Peter Hinton’s The Duchess of Malfi. Mr. Wentworth has also directed many Shakespeare plays including Henry IV Parts I and II at Stratford, an award-winning Much Ado About Nothing for the Hilbury in Detroit, Richard III at Vancouver’s Bard On The Beach and Othello for the Indiana Repertory Theatre. As resident director for the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey he produced The Winter’s Tale, Henry V, Othello and As You Like It; and as an Associate Artist for Shakespeare Santa Cruz he directed both parts of Henry IV and Love’s Labour’s Lost. Last year he directed a highly acclaimed Romeo and Juliet at the Denver Center.

Wendy Hyman is Assistant Professor of English at Oberlin College. She edited The Automaton in Early Renaissance Literature (Ashgate, 2011). Her articles include “ ‘For now hath time made me his numbering clock’: Shakespeare’s Jacquemarts” (Early Theatre 16.2, December 2013).

James Marino is Associate Professor of English at Cleveland State University and the author of Owning William Shakespeare: The King's Men and Their Intellectual Property (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011). He earned a Ph.D. from Stanford, an M.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and an A.B. from Harvard.

Paul Menzer is director of the Mary Baldwin College MLitt/MFA Shakespeare and Performance graduate program. An associate professor, he is the author of The Hamlets: Cues, Q's, and Remembered Texts (University of Delaware Press, 2008).

Symposium Organizers

Paul Gaffney is Associate Professor of English at Hiram College. He regularly teaches Shakespeare, including a “Shakespeare on Film” course and an upcoming Study Abroad course (co-taught with Richard Hyde).

Richard Hyde is a Professor of Theatre at Hiram College and the holder of the Howard S. Bissell Chair in the Liberal Arts.  He has been a fan of Shakespeare since he consistently chose rehearsal for As You Like It over everything else and became a theatre major.

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