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It's 400 years since Shakespeare’s death and his works are still performed, studied, analysed and debated. What keeps us coming back to the Bard? Why does he still engender such strong reactions in people?
In this year of commemoration, the State Library of New South Wales brings together an actor, student, academic and passionate director to discuss the ups and downs that come with loving the Bard.
James Evans is the Associate Director of Bell Shakespeare. He is a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (Acting) and holds an MA in English from the University of Sydney. James has worked extensively as an actor, director, lecturer and facilitator.
James is Director of The Players, Bell Shakespeare’s full-time touring ensemble, and will produce A Midsummer Night’s Dream with them this year. In 2014–15 James directed Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet, each playing to over 16,000 young people at the Sydney Opera House and the Arts Centre Melbourne. James co-wrote and presented the acclaimed iPad App Starting Shakespeare, which was named Best New App by Apple in 17 countries, including Australia and the US. Behind the camera, James co-directed the ABC Splash online series Shakespeare Unbound, and produced educational content for Google Australia for the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.
As a facilitator, James has run leadership and communication workshops for organisations such as Deutsche Bank, Telstra, Australian Unity, PwC and the Melbourne Business School. James has also conducted hundreds of Student Masterclasses and Teacher Professional Learning sessions in schools, universities, theatres and juvenile detention centres across Australia. In 2012 he spoke at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s international conference in London, and last year ran a series of intensive Shakespeare workshops in Beijing. In 2016, James will be a visiting artist at the University of San Diego, as well as presenting Shakespeare seminars, alongside John Bell, in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore.
Kate Mulvany is an Australian actress, playwright, librettist and screenwriter.
Kate has written over 25 plays and screenplays, including her award-winning autobiographical piece The Seed. Other plays include The Web, Blood & Bone, Story Time, The Danger Age, an adaptation of Jasper Jones and a new version of Medea, which won an AWGIE and several Sydney Theatre Critics awards. Kate also wrote the book to the musical Somewhere (music by Tim Minchin), and the new Australian Anzac oratorio “Towards First Light” with composer Iain Grandage.
As an actor, Kate has performed in many plays for companies including Sydney Theatre Company (The Crucible, King Lear, Proof, A Man With Five Children, Rabbit) Bell Shakespeare (Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Tartuffe), Melbourne Theatre Company (The Beast), Griffin Theatre Company (Mr Bailey’s Minder, Beached), and Belvoir (Buried Child, The Seed, Blasted). She is soon to be seen the Justin Fleming adaptation of Moliere’s The Literati for Griffin and Bell Shakespeare.
Kate has appeared on television in The Chaser’s War on Everything, Chandon Pictures, My Place, The Underbelly Files – The Man Who Got Away, Winter, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and the upcoming Secret City.
Feature films include, The Final Winter, The Turning, Griff the Invisible, The Little Death and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.
Kate is currently the Patrick White Fellow at the STC and the Intersticia Fellow at Bell Shakespeare. She is the ambassador for Agent Orange Justice and MiVAC (Mines, Victims and Clearance), both of whom provide support to the survivors of war in South East Asia.
Liam Semler is Professor of Early Modern Literature and Chair of the English Department at the University of Sydney. He is author of Teaching Shakespeare and Marlowe: Learning versus the System (Bloomsbury, 2013) and co-editor of Teaching Shakespeare beyond the Centre: Australasian Perspectives (Palgrave, 2013). He leads the collaborative research and teaching project, ‘Better Strangers’, which explores new approaches to understanding and teaching Shakespeare and maintains the Shakespeare Reloaded website (http://shakespearereloaded.edu.au/).
Christina is a year 12 student currently completing an English Extension major work on Shakespeare. She says: For me, the allure of Shakespearean drama arises from not only its profound representations of human psychology and sociology, but also from its surrounding literary criticism. So universal are the experiences depicted in his plays that hermeneutical interpretations can extend beyond the literary and into the pioneering fields of science, medicine and the ultimately un-literary.
Dr Michael Cathcart is the host of Books and Arts on RN. He has also worked as a theatre director and as a lecturer in Australian studies at the University of Melbourne. His book The Water Dreamers: The Remarkable History of Our Dry Continent (Text, 2009) won the Colin Roderick Award for best Australian book and was short-listed for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards. His most recent publication, Starvation in a Land of Plenty (National Library of Australia, 2013), tells the story of the life and death of the explorer William Wills. Michael has also presented several TV documentaries about Australian history, most recently Australia on Trial (2010).
Part of Sydney Writers Festival