Her paper is entitled “Hospitality at War in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida“.
Johann Gregory (Cardiff University) will be giving a paper entitled “‘[Theatre], thy name is woman’: Theatrical Value and Power in Shakespeare” at the Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft Annual Conference, Munich, 26 – 28 April 2013.
“The Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft (German Shakespeare Society) was founded in 1864. It is one of the oldest literary associations in Europe, if not the world, and has about 2,000 members. It promotes the investigation with William Shakespeare’s works, particularly in the German-speaking countires. In doing so, it co-operates closely with scholars, teachers and artists.”
Freud suggested that in The Merchant of Venice the caskets are “symbols of the essential of femininity, hence of woman herself”. Quoting this passage, Bourdieu noticed how in Flaubert’s A Sentimental Education a silver casket is transferred between three women: in the novel, he argues, the significance of the casket “involves a homologous social scheme as well, to wit, the opposition between art and money”. According to Bourdieu, the three women come to be associated with different literary fields. Thus, Mme Arnoux might represent high art, while “mercenary art, […] represented by bourgeois theatre [is] associated with the figure of Mme Dambreuse, and minor mercenary art, represented by vaudeville, cabaret or the serial novel, [is] evoked by Rosanette”. Flaubert’s novel invites its readers to reflect on artistic fields. Shakespeare’s work can also be seen in a similar light, and a comparable technique seems to be noticeable when women are associated with performance in the plays.
The character of the Fool is often read as a symbol of the theatre, but this paper briefly explores the theatrical symbolism of Portia in The Merchant of Venice, Cressida in Troilus and Cressida and Cordelia in King Lear. It argues that Shakespeare’s characterisation of these three women can be seen to foreground issues of theatrical value and currency: Portia’s characterisation invites the audience to reflect on the power of a (financed) theatre; the characterisation of Cressida negotiates the theme of the theatre as prostitution; and, in Cordelia, King Lear seems to bewail the apparent failure of theatre to communicate its value. The paper thus responds to critical thinking on the making of theatrical value (Paul Yachnin), fictions of cultural production (Patrick Cheney), and the question of Shakespeare’s autonomy (Stephen Greenblatt / Richard Wilson).
The theatre review covers the co-production of Troilus and Cressida performed in Stratford-Upon-Avon last summer.
Shakespeare Bulletin, a peer-reviewed journal of performance criticism and scholarship, provides commentary on Shakespeare and Renaissance drama through feature articles, theatre and film reviews, and book reviews. Begun in 1982 as the organ of the New York Shakespeare Society, in 1992 it incorporated Shakespeare on Film Newsletter, which began publication in 1976. Shakespeare Bulletin‘s theatre coverage serves as a record of production in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and throughout the world.
Johann Gregory (Cardiff University) will deliver a research paper tomorrow at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. The paper is entitled:
Being and Performing in Troilus and Cressida: “In faith, I lie”
This paper shies away from the overt promises the characters make in order to focus on the expression “in faith”, used most by Cressida in the play. It examines the way that this quasi-oath suggests both a subject who promises, and, at the same time, a figure who performs. It considers the way in which the strategy of having characters that promise suggests an interior psychology and intentions, before going on to suggest that this performance is caught awkwardly in the language of theatricality which is seemingly akin to feigning, falseness or protesting too much. In a second part it explores how promises on the stage and “in real life” are always caught to a degree in a language of performance which often represses the theatricality of the promise so that characters or people can mean what they say. Using Sartre’s notion of bad faith, this part explores the performative dimension of being and promises, showing how performing ourselves can be intrinsic to who we are, while at the same time, this performance is always in danger of being just an act.
Hamlet was first performed at the Globe around 1600. According to Andrew Gurr, apple-wives, citizen-wives, fishwives, ladies and whores were known to attend commercial theatres. But on stage there remained only male actors, so that the female gender had to be assumed by boy actors for parts such as Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother. At this level of performance, gender can be assumed, constructed, and exchanged. Troilus and Cressida (c. 1601-2) was probably performed at the Inns of Court, where a very different audience of law students and barristers gathered. In Hamlet and Troilus and Cressida, the women take on the roles of both actor and audience, as the women view the men onstage and each other, while being watched by the offstage audience. The female characters’ watchfulness, however, is performed by male actors, while at the Inns of Court it has often been assumed that women were not invited. This essay tackles the significance of boy-actors assuming a female gender by considering women as audience within the fiction of the plays and even some figures who cross gender boundaries while stepping onto the stage or out of the play. Part one shifts from possible theatre audiences in London to fictional audiences within Hamlet; part two moves from considering Cressida as an audience figure to briefly examine the possibility of women being present at an Inns of Court performance.
Assuming Gender is an open access journal:
Alun Thomas and Johann Gregory have had their joint paper accepted for the Cambridge Shakespeare conference in September (2011). Their paper is entitled “Playing with Precedents in Shakespeare: Expectations in Richard III and Troilus and Cressida”
In September 2011 the Cambridge University Faculty of Education, in association with the Cambridge University Faculty of English, The Marlowe Society and the Association of Adaptation Studies will host an interdisciplinary three day conference entitled ‘Shakespeare: Sources and Adaptation’.
The conference will explore some of the classical and vernacular drama and poetry and the historical sources that inspired Shakespeare’s work, and the work – literary, artistic, musical and filmic – that has in turn been influenced by Shakespeare’s plays.
This event seeks to unite theatre practitioners, academics, teachers, students and Shakespeare enthusiasts in a series of lectures, workshops, seminars, rehearsed readings and performances. It is hoped that the theme will encourage participants from a range of disciplines – English, Drama, Education, Music, Modern Languages, Classics, History, Art and Film.
Speakers include: Carol Ann Duffy, Michael Rosen, Professor Helen Cooper, Professor Graham Holderness, Professor Stuart Sillars, actress Imogen Stubbs and directors Rupert Goold and Sir Trevor Nunn (subject to other commitments).
The conference will include an exhibition of painting and poetry inspired by Shakespeare by artist Tom de Freston and poet Kiran Millwood-Hargrave. There will also be a display of paintings and poetry by students from local Cambridge schools, with whom Tom and Kiran will run a series of workshops.
Johann Gregory (Cardiff University) will be presenting a paper at the Derrida Today conference in London on Monday (July 19th). His paper is entitled “Derrida’s ‘thought of the promise’ and Troilus and Cressida“. The paper engages with Derrida’s Limited Inc and particularly the issues of context and the performance of promises on stage.
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