Two New British Shakespeare Association Projects

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I chaired the British Shakespeare Association’s Annual General Meeting last week. Once again, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust kindly hosted the event, which was followed by an excellent evening of discussion led by Paul Edmondson with Eric Rasmussen, Peter Kirwan, and John Jowett. AGMs are rarely thrilling occasions, but this AGM was notable for two presentations: one about the BSA’s Biennial Conference, which will be held in Lancaster in February 2012; and one about our new publication, Teaching Shakespeare.

These two initiatives exemplify what the BSA is about, because they bring together Shakespeareans in schools, universities, and theatres (as well as enthusiasts) for a shared conversation about Shakespeare and his works.

Professor Alison Findlay introduced the 5th Biennial British Shakespeare Conference, Shakespeare Inside-Out which will be held at Lancaster University, 24th-26th February 2012. Highlights include talks by Barrie Rutter, Jean Howard, Andrew Gurr, Cicely Berry, Stanley Wells and Stuart Sillars. There are also over 90 papers and a number of workshops on teaching and performance. Regular attenders of this conference will know that in the past we have always held it in September, but this has always been a difficult month for schools. This year we have moved the conference to February, and this has given the BSA an opportunity to work much more closely with schools. This year there will be a special schools day involving teachers and pupils, and all of Lancaster will be getting into the spirit of the occasion with a special Shakespeare Festival. This is not the first time we have held a conference in February – our very first conference, Shakespeare and Britain, at which the British Shakespeare Associationwas founded, was held in February 2002. This means that we will be celebrating our 10th birthday and to mark the occasion there will be a special reception and – we are promised – a birthday cake. For more information about the conference and how to register as a delegate, see our website at www.britishshakespeare.ws

Sarah Olive and James Stredder then introduced a new BSA publication, Teaching Shakespeare. This should be ready for launch at the Lancaster conference. Aimed at teachers at all levels of education, Teaching Shakespeare will be an important resource and a way for teachers to share best practice and learn about new developments to help with the teaching of Shakespeare’s works. There will also be discussions of recent books and theatre reviews. The pilot issue will be disseminated in print and online.

Alison, Sarah and James impressed me with their dedication to working with Shakespeareans from all backgrounds. These will be high quality projects which will lead discussion and debate over the next year. If you want to know more about the BSA, especially if you want to join and help contribute to these projects, visit our website at www.britishshakespeare.ws

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Author:Stuart Hampton-Reeves

Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Central Lancashire.

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