Shakespeare 400 Melbourne

2016 is the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. Celebratory events are being planned by leading cultural institutions around the world, including the British Library, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. The University of Melbourne is excited to be joining the festivities, with the launch of Shakespeare 400 Melbourne, featuring a host of articles, videos and events about the illustrious Bard of Avon.

The first public lecture delivered by the Faculty of Arts, © William Shakespeare, is scheduled for Wednesday 27 April. The lecture will be presented by the internationally renowned expert on the history of the English book trade, Professor Ian Gadd, from Bath Spa University, UK. In this talk, Professor Gadd will focus on the first folio of Shakespeare’s collected works dating back to 1623. He will share remarkable insights into the process by which the collection was assembled and published, including consideration of what we might now think of as copyright restrictions.

Throughout April and May, the Faculty of Arts will also present Melbourne Masterclasses: Shakespeare, a 4-part series covering each of the major genres in which Shakespeare wrote: Tragedy (Romeo and Juliet), History (Henry IV, Part 1), Comedy (Merry Wives of Windsor), and Romance (The Tempest). Dr David McInnis, Gerry Higgins Lecturer in Shakespeare Studies, will co-present each masterclass in the series with speakers from the Bell Shakespeare Company, the Melbourne University  Shakespeare Company (MUSC), theatrical director Rob Conkie and actors Tom Considine, Helen Hopkins and Carole Patullo, stars of Nothing But Roaring’s production of Merry Wives.

Benedick and Beatrice will be sparring once again as the Faculty of VCA and MCM’s Acting Company 2016 and Production Team perform Much Ado About Nothing, first at Southbank (17-23 March) and then on tour to Germany where they will participate in the 2016 Folkwang Shakespeare Festival. The Company will also explore why the course of true love never did run smooth, when they present  A Midsummer Night’s Dream in April. Thespian talents will also be on display on the Parkville campus, as the Melbourne University Shakespeare Company performs Henry IV, Part 1 in May, in addition to a number of workshops and play readings throughout the year.

Past performers may be interested to know that Union House Theatre will be holding an alumni event, ‘Performing Shakespeare – a University of Melbourne Student Theatre Retrospective’, with an associated exhibition on April 9. For further information, contact Olivia Allen.

Image: Pages of William Shakespeare’s first folio. Credit: Ben Sutherland, Flickr.
Image: Pages of William Shakespeare’s first folio.
Credit: Ben Sutherland, Flickr.

To coincide with Rare Books Week in July, the Baillieu Library will stage the exhibition, After Shakespeare, which will feature a copy of the 1632 Second Folio and 1685 Fourth Folio of Shakespeare’s works, a Gold Rush Era promptbook for a production of Antony and Cleopatra in Melbourne, and numerous items related to Australian productions of Shakespeare’s plays. The exhibition draws on Shakespearean holdings in the Baillieu’s Special Collections and Prints, as well as the University Archives (including the recently acquired Germaine Greer Archive). Also on display will be rare artefacts from the Melbourne Theatre Company’s past Shakespeare productions, and rare books and theatre ephemera from the State Library of Victoria. The exhibition will run until February 2017 and will be accompanied by a series of lunchtime talks held in the adjacent Leigh Scott Room.

We hope you can join us in our celebrations of the life and work of William Shakespeare. For further details of these and other events, visit Shakespeare 400 Melbourne.