Archive for June, 2014


Shakespeare at the cinema in Cardiff tomorrow and Monday

June 28, 2014

At Cardiff’s Chapter:

RSC Live Encore: Henry IV Part II

180 mins (TBC). Dir: Gregory Doran. With Anthony Sher, Jasper Britton, Alex Hassell.

Sunday 29th June, 2.15pm (also showing on 7th and 16th of July)

King Henry’s health is failing as a second rebellion threatens to surface. Intent on securing his legacy, he is uncertain that Hal is a worthy heir, believing him more concerned with earthly pleasures than with the responsibility of rule. Meanwhile, Falstaff is sent to the countryside to recruit fresh troops. Among the unwitting locals, opportunities for embezzlement and profiteering prove impossible to resist as Falstaff gleefully indulges in the business of lining his own pockets. As the King’s health continues to worsen, Hal must choose between duty and loyalty to an old friend.


At Cardiff’s Cineworld:

Shakespeare’s Globe: The Tempest

Monday 30th June, 1pm and 7.30pm

Roger Allam stars as Prospero in Jeremy Herrin’s handsome and hilarious production of Shakespeare’s late masterpiece. Prospero (Roger Allam), Duke of Milan, is usurped and exiled by his scheming brother Antonio (Jason Baughan). He’s now stranded on a remote island with his daughter Miranda (Jessie Buckley) and has become a great sorcerer. Serving him are deformed feral slave Caliban (James Garnon) and reluctant spirit Ariel (Colin Morgan). To exact his revenge, Prospero lures Antonio and the complicit Alonso (Peter Hamilton Dyer) to the island by conjuring up a great storm. Director Jeremy Herrin follows his acclaimed 2011 production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ at the Globe with this funny and spellbinding staging of the Bard’s great meditation on forgiveness. Stage and screen star Roger Allam, whose credits include ‘The Thick of It’, returns to the Globe after his Olivier Award-winning triumph as Falstaff. The outstanding cast also includes Colin Morgan, of BBC ‘Merlin’ fame.


The Cardiff Rare Books Project: historical highlights and favourite finds

June 18, 2014

Special Collections and Archives / Casgliadau Arbennig ac Archifau

IMG_9828The Cardiff Rare Books Collection, acquired by Cardiff University in 2010, includes 14,000 rare and early printed books and pamphlets dating from the 15th to the 20th century. Before arriving here, the collection had been in storage for decades and had never been comprehensively catalogued. The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation kindly agreed to fund a specialist rare books cataloguer to work on the collection over a three year period and I happily took up the role in June 2011. The Cardiff Rare Books Project began with the aim of cataloguing as much of the collection as possible, uncovering hidden treasures and making them accessible to scholars and the general public alike.

Cardiff’s incunabula (books printed before 1501)

During the course of the project, almost five and a half thousand records have been added to the library catalogue and numerous exciting discoveries have ???????????????????????????????been made. The library’s cataloguing team and I have…

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Garrick and Shakespeare Conference Reminder: June 25-27th, 2014

June 17, 2014

Garrick and Shakespeare

JUNE, 25-27th, 2014

Kingston University

Garrick Conference Flyer

Plenary Speakers:

Simon Callow

Michael Dobson

Norma Clarke

Peter Holland

Find out more here.


Shakespeare’s Macbeth in Cardiff

June 17, 2014


Click here to find out about these and other dates/venues.


Dr Johann Gregory: Academic Portfolio

June 11, 2014

Academic Portfolio

I’ve recently created an academic portfolio.

You can view it here:


Harvard professor Stephen Greenblatt shares his first encounters with Shakespeare as a young student

June 6, 2014


Harvard University professor Stephen Greenblatt knows a lot about Shakespeare. He’s the author of “Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare,” and he came to the Folger Shakespeare Library this spring to participate in a research conference on “Shakespeare and the Problem of Biography.” But Greenblatt did not immediately latch on to the Bard in his student days. As he put it recently in an interview with the Harvard Gazette:

I was no child prodigy. In fact, I encountered “As You Like It” in Miss Gillespie’s eighth-grade class — and it seemed like the worst, most boring thing I ever read in my life. I can still remember the shudder with which I received the words “Sweet my coz, be merry.” I just didn’t get it at all. So it’s not like I awakened as a child to the wonders of Shakespeare.

Stephen Greenblatt Stephen Greenblatt at the “Shakespeare and the Problem of Biography” conference at the Folger Shakespeare…

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No Need for Uneasiness: A Review of William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Performed by the University of South Wales

June 4, 2014

By Darren Freebury-Jones

Henry IV University of South Wales 2014

I have, during the course of writing my thesis at Cardiff University, been immersed in Shakespeare’s early plays, such as the Henry VI trilogy, and have analysed his style in the context of imitation and collaboration. It was therefore refreshing to see a production of a play in which Shakespeare refined the history genre and found his own distinct authorial voice, while surpassing the dramatic language of his contemporaries, such as Christopher Marlowe, George Peele and Thomas Kyd. I had no misgivings about the fact that the University of South Wales decided to conflate the first and second parts of Henry IV, for the first part would feel lost without its sequel, and the Dering manuscript, prepared around 1613, suggests that this was sometimes the case even in Shakespeare’s day. I was uneasy about the notion of modernising aspects of the play, given its emphasis on a span of history circa 1403, but more on that later… I do struggle with gender swapping in casting (a staple in student productions, it seems), unless it serves a dramatic or didactic purpose – with Henry Bolingbroke himself played by a woman here – but then I suppose this is a mere subversion of the all-male casting of Shakespeare’s theatre.

The play concerns the king’s struggle to maintain order in England, as factious rebels attack from across England, Wales and Scotland. This production began with the cast clutching at a crown that dangled above them, and from the off the emphasis was very much on the fact that ‘uneasy lies the head that wears’ the troublesome crown of England. In this respect, director Richard Hand’s thematic emphasis reminded me somewhat of Roman Polanski’s film version of the Scottish play. My uncertainties about the modernisation of Henry IV quickly dissipated during the anachronistic comic interchanges in which Sir John Falstaff is foiled by the seeming entrance of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. Or the superb scene in which Falstaff treated the audience to a rendition of another king, Elvis, which was, rather paradoxically, laced with poignancy, as other members of the cast attired themselves for war. Soon, there would be ‘no more cakes and ale’. Indeed, the first half, which was utterly hilarious, constantly foreshadowed the somberness of the play’s conclusion, and the director did a fantastic job in highlighting such ominous moments as Falstaff’s assertion that, ‘Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world’, followed by Hal’s gloomy response, ‘I do. I will’…

The cast, for the most part, did well in making Shakespeare’s sometimes knotted language accessible to the audience. Having worked with Scott Patrick before, I was delighted to discover that he was playing Falstaff, Shakespeare’s most revered comic creation perhaps, next to Bottom. The man’s side-splitting improvisations made me break character once in a production of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, so I expected big things, and (it’s safe to say) he certainly delivered. In fact, his presence often dominated the stage like a colossus, and this huge bombard of comic brilliance was complemented by evident understanding of the significance of certain speeches (and great subtlety), such as Falstaff’s catechism on the concept of honour. Simon King gave a very assured performance as the ruggedly handsome future king, and I must mention Poppy Sturgess as Mistress Quickly. She evinced great comic timing throughout her scenes and had a real natural flair for stage humour.

The second half, being more sombre, did not quite have the same impact as the first (a consensus long shared among literary critics regarding the second part of Henry IV), and this might have had something to do with the maladroitness of stage combat. Though Thomas Nashe praised the staging of ‘all stratagems of war’, Shakespeare’s fellow playwright Ben Jonson mocked actors who ‘with three rusty swords, And help of some few foot-and-half-foot words, Fight over York, and Lancaster’s long jars’. Still, the second half brought to fruition the banishment of Falstaff and the crowning of Harry, in an ambiguous resolution, which transcended jingoistic interpretations of Henry V. The audience left smiling, and I hope that the actors and crew enjoyed a great deal of sack in deserved celebration. As Shakespeare might say, they’re likely to have woken up in their drowsy beds recalling ‘a mass of things, but nothing distinctly’. The audience, and myself, won’t forget the details of this enchanting production anytime soon.


See the production flyer here.


Shakespeare’s Henry IV in Cardiff tonight and tomorrow – Uni of South Wales

June 2, 2014

A University of South Wales production of William Shakespeare’s ‘Henry IV’ performed by third year Theatre students. “After a bitter civil war, Henry IV longs for domestic stability and a chance to join the crusades. However, the fault lines of the nation run deep and the struggling monarch must, once again, fight tooth and nail to save his crown. Meanwhile, his son, Prince Hal, languishes in the taverns and brothels of London with the notorious Sir John Falstaff and his cronies. As the greatest warrior of the age, Hotspur, galvanises the support of powerful rebels from across England, Wales and Scotland to depose King Henry, the young prince must confront his responsibilities to family and throne.” This full production adapts ‘Henry IV Pt. I’ and ‘Pt. II’ into one play running at approximately 2 and a half hours with an interval. Performances: 2nd June – 7pm. 3rd June – 2pm and 7pm. Director: Richard Hand Assistant Directors: Jess Smith and Alice Rush Tickets are £5 and can be purchased in person from the Atrium Cash Office on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings 9-12pm, or by phone 01443 668731. Payment by cash, cheque or cards is accepted.   See the Facebook page here.

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