Reviewing Shakespeare: continental Europe’s voices and silences


Convenor: Dr Janice Valls-Russell (Research Institute for the Renaissance, the Neo-Classical Era and the Enlightenment (IRCL), University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3 and French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), France)

Panelists: Dr Bettina Boecker (Munich Shakespeare Library and English Department, University of Munich, Germany), Professor Anna Maria Cimitile (Dipartimento di Studi letterari, linguistici e comparati, Università degli studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”, Italy), Dr Urszula Kizelbach (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland), Dr Nicoleta Cinpoes (Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts, University of Worcester, UK)

Much has been written about theatre reviewing over the past decade, essentially from a Britain-centred perspective, with monographs and collections of essays published by Paul Edmondson, Paul Prescott, Peter J. Smith and Erin Sullivan. A special issue of Cahiers Élisabéthains, which grew out of a seminar at the World Shakespeare Congress in Prague, offered international perspectives, but inevitably covered only a few European countries.

The ESRA 2017 congress in Gdansk provides us with a fine opportunity to address theatre reviewing from a continental European perspective, so as to hear other voices and thereby enrich our collective knowledge and experience. The panellists will consider the subject from a number of different approaches – historical, cultural, stylistic, educational, etc. While their contributions will tend to cover countries they are more familiar with (Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania), the aim of this panel is also to open up the European dialogue and invite responses from members of the audience so as to paint a wider European scape. It is important that discussions should also include national contexts where there has been, or there still is, little or no theatre reviewing, especially academic.

Below are just a few of the many issues that will be addressed by the panellists and opened up to discussion:

  • Is reviewing Shakespeare in performance the same in Poland or Italy or Germany or Romania?
  • Do reviews of Shakespeare productions open onto political issues, contemporaneous concerns (migrations, discrimination, terrorism) or other cultural icons (such as, say, Star Wars)?
  • How does the press cover productions? What are their yardsticks?
  • Do national productions receive different treatment from international ones? Do reviews of national theatre productions differ from ones of local theatre productions — in terms of input, coverage, distribution, engagement?
  • Is it easier to write a review for an international publication (academic, print or online) than for the national media (and in the respective language), which might go for more politically correct approaches (as happens in the UK)?
  • How has reviewing evolved as it has entered different media (blogs, Facebook, tweeting, etc.)?
  • Is there a field for academic reviewing?
  • How does reviewing contribute to documenting productions, archiving and theatre history more widely?
  • Is there scope for using reviewing in teaching Shakespeare and education more broadly?