Hamlet, Digital Theatre, and Contemporary Conflict in Europe


Convener: Aneta Mancewicz (Kingston University, UK)

Panelists: Chiel Kattenbelt (Utrecht University, Netherlands), Aneta Mancewicz (Kingston University, UK), Robin Nelson (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK), Kurt Vanhoutte (University of Antwerp, Belgium). With contributions from the members of CREW, theatre company from Brussels: Eric Joris, Valery de Smedt, Mia Vaerman.


The panel is relevant for several topics listed in the conference CFP: Shakespeare, theatre and the new media, theorising (Shakespearean) theatre practice, Shakespeare and the dramaturg in today’s theatre, digital Shakespeare in European theatre. More broadly, the panel has an aesthetic and political relevance. It examines theatrical uses of digital technologies, which have rapidly developed in the last few years: motion capture and immersive video. It also investigates modes of engaging with contemporary conflict in Europe and beyond through a digital adaptation of Shakespeare’s iconic tragedy of revenge.

The panel engages with the following research inquiry: How can we stage Hamlet with digital technologies, such as motion capture and immersive imagery, and what insights about the text, theatre, and contemporary culture can we gain from such an approach? This specific inquiry addresses the affordances and agencies of digital technologies in theatre, the characteristics of media and intermedial relations, but also the continued relevance of philosophical, political, aesthetic and dramaturgical questions in Hamlet and the ways of staging the play for contemporary audiences. The panel addresses these questions by drawing on insights from a collaborative performance event based on Hamlet that will be developed in the process of Practice as Research (PaR) inquiry. The contributions will focus on the process of developing a digital Shakespeare performance, the nature of intermedial relationships in adapting Shakespeare, the methodology of PaR in staging Shakespeare, and a political reading of Hamlet in Europe. The key issues examined in this reading will be: suicide, honour, patriarchy and the ethics of war.

All the panelists share interest in Shakespeare and digital theatre practice, as well as the methodology of Practice as Research (Nelson, Palgrave 2013). The approach adopted in the panel is collaborative, interdisciplinary and intermedial. The participants will address a range of topics: intermediality and media studies (Kattenbelt), European Shakespare performance (Mancewicz), Practice as Research (Nelson), intermedial dramaturgy (Vanhoutte), as well as theatre practice and technology (Joris, de Smedt, Vaerman).