The Bard on Broadway showcases Shakespearean legacy

The cast of Notre Dame’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream which played
to packed houses during the Shakespeare Symposium.

11 November 2016

Shakespeare came to Broadway this week in a one-day symposium at Notre Dame’s Sydney Campus to mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.

The symposium held on Wednesday 9 November 2016 was the culmination of a unique interdisciplinary unit, Shakespeare Mastermind, developed by Notre Dame to celebrate the Bard.

Dr Deborah Pike, Senior Lecturer, in the University’s School of Arts & Sciences, said the plays The Tempest and Julius Caesar had been taught from the perspectives of literary study, dramaturgy, theatre practice, history, philosophy and theology.

“The unit explores the problems, dilemmas and situations Shakespeare poses in his plays. Encompassing political and family issues, arguments about ethics, society, and relationships – issues highly relevant today. We explore his plays from all these angles together with a study of his extraordinary language,” Dr Pike said.

“The unit is about recognising and solving problems through these interdisciplinary lenses and this way students are able to experience a layering of knowledge from different vantage points and learning positions. When Shakespeare is taught this way, students are given unprecedented depth and broader cultural knowledge – for example, about history and the embodied dimension of his plays – which encourages flexible thinking; the way of the future for our graduates.”

Philosophy student Michael Hume commented: “It has been an altogether enjoyable interdisciplinary unit to capture the intellectual richness and philosophical insight of Shakespeare”.

World-renowned Shakespeare specialist Professor Chris Wortham from the University’s Fremantle Campus gave the symposium’s key note address: Shakespeare’s Maps: Meanings of Shakespeare’s Place and Places in the Plays.

A specialist in Medieval and Renaissance drama and poetry, Professor Wortham is formerly from the University of Western Australia, where he retains the position of Emeritus Professor of English. His address, Shakespeare’s Maps: Meanings of Shakespeare’s Place and Places in the Plays will explore the significance of location in Shakespeare’s plays with particular emphasis on Julius Caesar and The Tempest.

Professor Wortham said Shakespeare was eternally relevant because his plays were about enduring human attributes and situations. “His depth of insight into political, religious, social and personal issues is enduring and intense. Whenever his plays recreate earlier historical issues, for example about ancient Rome, he relates them to those of his own day. And so many of the issues of his own day continue to be ours today.”

The Symposium also included a theatre workshop from James Evans from Bell Shakespeare and a highly successful production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream produced by the University’s Theatre Studies department under the direction of Senior Lecturer and Head of Theatre Studies, Jane Bergeron, and Theatre Lecturer, Michael Pigott.

To view a selection of photographs from the Shakespeare Symposium, please view our Facebook Gallery.

Theresa Kyne: Tel (02) 8204 4141; Mob: 0491 218 852;