New York University’s Program in Educational Theatre will bring together more than 150 educators, artists, and scholars for a three-day conference exploring the performance and teaching of Shakespeare in the 21st century. The conference will take place from Thursday, April 24 through Sunday, April 27 at NYU’s Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for University Life, 60 Washington Square South. Although the conference is closed to the public, interested journalists may contact Tim Farrell, NYU Office of Public Affairs, at 212.998.6797 to RSVP for select events.
Entitled “Shakespeare Forum: Page, Stage, Engage,” the conference will include presentations of academic papers, workshops, and scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. Among the presenters are representatives from the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Shakespeare & Company, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, among other academic institutions and performing arts companies.
Conference highlights include:
- Thursday, April 24, 7:00 - 10:00 p.m.: Opening Reception: Special guest Denis Holmes, acclaimed Shakespearean actor
- Friday, April 25, 10:30 a.m: Keynote address: speaker: Roger Rees, Olivier and Tony Award-winning actor (Kimmel 914)
- 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.: Performance: NYU’s Shakespeare to Go performs The Tempest (Provincetown Playhouse, 133 MacDougal Street). The Shakespeare to Go company is composed of NYU undergraduate and graduate students.
- Saturday, April 26, 3:30 - 6:30 p.m.: Performance: Shakespeare Youth Ensemble performs Twelfth Night (Provincetown Playhouse, 133 MacDougal Street). The Shakespeare Youth Ensemble is composed of young people aged 12-18 from throughout the metropolitan area.
Conference attendees will address questions such as: why is Shakespeare still part of our theatrical vocabulary? How are we approaching Shakespeare’s canon in the 21st century? To what extent does his canon fit into our ever-changing and multicultural, globalized landscape? And why is Shakespeare’s work a fundamental component of English and theatre curricula?
NYU’s Program in Educational Theatre, situated in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, has taken a lead in bringing Shakespeare and his plays to schools and community organizations throughout New York City with its Shakespeare Initiative. The Program’s touring Shakespeare to Go company, coupled with the summer Looking for Shakespeare program and the Shakespeare Youth Ensemble, provide a myriad of opportunities for students to think about and engage with Shakespeare’s vast canon of work.
The Program’s pedagogical approach trains artists and teachers to think about Shakespeare’s plays as living performances rather than simply as pieces of literature. This requires participants to engage with the text in a kinesthetic way, and they discover that what was once mysterious and foreign is now clear and familiar. The overarching goal of the Shakespeare Initiative is to provide people of all ages and abilities with the skills to experience Shakespeare’s plays as written, rather than relying solely on adaptation or modernization of the text.