Shakespeare and/in Europe: Connecting Voices

Conveners: Dr Nicole Fayard (University of Leicester, UK,, Professor Krystyna Kujawinska Courtney (University of Lodz, Poland

Recent events in Europe, from the migrant crisis, racial tensions, terrorist attacks, to the debate over Brexit, have revealed deepening tensions and divisions across the European Union and the continent. Recent studies suggest that our existing sociopolitical paradigms limit people’s responses to diversity and multiculturalism to overcoming integration rather than living with it. Yet to live with rather than fight integration we must first recognise Europe and European identity as fundamentally diverse. Understanding Europe as a conglomerate of plural, fluid and multicultural identities—born of geographical, historical, biological, sexual, linguistic, religious, ideological and artistic varieties—would enable us to better appreciate it as an inherently transnational entity (Uchs & Lingemann, 2011; Giuseppe Sciortino & Peter Kraus, 2013; Kivisto, 2014; Ruiz-Vieytez, 2015).

Perhaps no ‘migrant’ illustrates this point better than Shakespeare, who continues to be embraced enthusiastically throughout Europe as a key text, his plays constantly being read and performed in a variety of target languages. The themes of diversity, conflict, and cultural exchange dominate Shakespeare’s theatre. Interestingly, several recent productions have given special—often controversial— prominence, to these issues. But how are we to interpret such directorial choices? Was their aim to criticise diversity, to expose its impact on an enlarged Europe, or to point to various mechanisms of intolerance?

The aim of this workshop is to explore how Shakespeare’s works have been used on the stage by translators, theatrical practitioners, and audiences to promote an understanding of diversity and identity in Europe (and beyond it). In what sense can we expect Shakespeare’s plays to reflect current-day European realities and identities? What kinds of developments have been made in performance aesthetics and translation methodologies to accommodate or address Europe’s ever-changing and diversifying social landscape? Can Shakespearian performance be a means to connect the many voices and languages of the people of Europe? Do audiences genuinely make connections between Shakespearian performance and their own daily lives? We propose to investigate these questions by bringing together scholars, translators, theatre practitioners and critics, into a lively interdisciplinary and cross-professional discussion on Shakespeare and Europe today.

Speakers names to follow.