Brisbane bound

17th August 2016

In just over a fortnight I jet off to Brisbane for a week to take up the Lloyd Davis Memorial Fellowship at the University of Queensland. I’m honoured by the invitation and very much looking forward to visiting a city I’ve not visited previously. Tips about what to see and where to eat and drink will be gratefully received. And you can expect a post or two from down under while I’m there. (The image above is of downtown Brisbane and Storey Bridge from New Farm; photo: Lachlan Fearnley via Wikimedia.)

The Lloyd Davis Memorial Fellowship is in memory of Associate Professor Lloyd Davis, who died in 2005, and a Shakespearean scholar is invited each year to visit Brisbane. Currently scheduled for my trip is a public lecture on Tuesday 6 September and a postgraduate masterclass the following day. The lecture has the title ‘Being There: Shakespeare, Theatre Television, and Live Cinema’, and this is description:

Live screen versions of Shakespeare on stage were first imagined in the late nineteenth century and first realised in Britain before World War Two. NT Live, RSC Live from Stratford-upon-Avon, and other live cinema initiatives, for all their appearance of novelty, develop conceptions of the hybrid forms between theatre, film, and television that have a rich and revealing history. The pleasures, perplexities, and problems of being in some way present in a theatre, and yet at the same moment thousands of miles away in front of a screen, have long been with us – and their contemporary forms can be fruitfully illuminated by considering them across the past century and more.

As producer of RSC Live from Stratford-upon-Avon, and as a writer on television and the arts, John Wyver explores both as a practitioner and a cultural historian the past, present, and possible futures of Shakespearean live cinema. How have productions of the plays been shared with audiences beyond the auditoria for which they were staged? How have the mediating processes of production inflected meanings and impacted audiences? And how does it change our ideas of theatre and of Shakespeare when we can sit in Brisbane’s Palace Barracks Cinema while imagining ourselves in Stratford-upon-Avon a month or more back in time?

And the class, which is titled ‘ “Look Ye How They Change”: Close Reading Live Cinema Productions of Henry V, takes on this:

Live cinema broadcasts and recordings released on DVD and online are significantly enhancing the availability of a range of productions of most of Shakespeare’s plays. But the critical discussion of the form to date has been undertaken largely in conceptual and contextual terms.

John Wyver’s interest in this class is to develop close readings of a short passage from Henry V in the 2015 RSC and 2012 Shakespeare’s Globe ‘live’ productions, and to compare the treatment in these with the same passage in British television productions of the play from 1957, 1979 and The Hollow Crown series in 2012, as well as the well known films directed by Laurence Olivier in 1944 and Kenneth Branagh in 1989. In doing so, he hopes to start developing an understanding of the specific screen languages and poetics of live cinema productions.

Unlikely as it may seem, should you be in Brisbane it would be great to see you at either; you can secure tickets or sign up via the links above.


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