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Shakespeare Ever After…in Five Minutes or Less

December 4, 2013
[Photo c/o UW English Dept.]

[Photo c/o UW English Dept.]

One night. Ten different scholars. Five minutes. One muse.

This is the world of “Short Takes.” The “Shakespeare Ever After” event is a partnership between the UW English Department and ACT Theatre to showcase the expertise of ten talented UW professors in five minute segments. Each speaker had their own take on a topic—in this case, the legendary playwright. Presentations ranged from “St. Shakespeare” to “Shakespeare the Book” and “Adaption and Ambiguity: Screening Shakespeare.” Their wonderfully articulated  pieces were shared among an intimate crowd of Shakespeare fanatics on one November evening.

The evening was filled with highbrow humor (I definitely need to brush up on some of my Shakespeare), laughter, and learning- but not in the traditional approach.

These were the highlights of my night:

  • Shakespeare’s Insults and Curses

Collette Moore, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Programs, delved into the use of Shakespeare’s obscene and profane words in the modern day. She illustrated her take with images of cats with Shakespearean curses– emphasizing the continued modern fascination with Shakespeare’s words. The use of cat memes brought the audience into an uproar of laughter. Purrrrrsonally, I can never get tired of cats.

  • The Masks of Hamlet

Associate artistic director for ACT Theatre, John Langs, spoke of the many different portrayals of Hamlet in theater, cinema, and literature. Turns out, it is incredibly daunting for a director to differentiate his Hamlet when so many varieties are in existence. If the director was Captain Ahab, Hamlet was the “white whale,” according to Langs. It was intriguing to hear about a perspective I truly never thought about.

  • Silent Shakespeare

Jennifer Bean, Associate Chair of UW Comparative Literature and Director of the Cinema and Media Studies Program, performed an excellent piece on Shakespeare and silent films. Her amazing speaking skills paired with her expressive, animated body language continually kept my attention. She explored Sarah Bernhardt and Asta Nielsen’s portrayals of Hamlet, both famous silent film actresses. She delved into the female social and sexual emancipation of these women as they performed Hamlet- truly a fascinating take on Shakespeare.

  • Shakespeare’s Face

Odai Johnson, UW Professor of Drama, showed really great pictures of the artistic evolution and different representations of Shakespeare’s face. In some paintings, Shakespeare was a young and clean shaven man dawned in a casual getup of that time while in others, he was fully bearded clothed in extravagant attire. The true mystery is what he really looked like.

  • Dessert Dining

After the performance, there was dessert! And lots of it! A reception was held where the audience could mix and mingle with the performers while enjoying light snacks and wine.

The “Short Takes” structure of the event was actually borrowed from an ongoing program at the Burke Museum which highlights research in a fun, lighthearted manner. The quick succession of speakers kept my attention and was a far better alternative to the traditional way of informing an audience!

To find out more about the “Short Takes” program, visit the Burke Museum website here.

[Photo c/o UW English Dept.]

[Photo c/o UW English Dept.]

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 14, 2013 2:23 am

    Hello Elizabeth, thanks for the essence of Shakespeare Ever After, really appreciate to you.

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