Seminar 21: Shakespearean Festivals in the 21st Century

Schedule / Horaire

Thursday 24 April 2014, 15h30-17h30.

Room: L109.

Leaders / Organisateurs

Nicoleta Cinpoes, University of Worcester (UK), Florence March, IRCL, University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3 (France), and Paul Prescott, University of Warwick (UK)


  1. Susan Brock (University of Warwick, UK), Paul Edmondson (Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, UK), and Paul Prescott (University of Warwick, UK)
    Shakespeare on the Road: North American Festivals in 2014
  2. Debra Ann Byrd (Producing Artistic Director, Take Wing And Soar Productions and the Harlem Shakespeare Festival, USA)
    The Harlem Shakespeare Festival
  3. Jean-Claude Carrière (President of the Montpellier Festival: “Le Printemps des comédiens”) and Florence March (IRCL, University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France)
    Shaping democratic festivals through Shakespeare in the South of France: Avignon and Montpellier
  4. Nicoleta Cinpoes (University of Worcester, UK)
    ‘Everyman’s Shakespeare’: Craiova Shakespeare Festival
  5. Jacek Fabiszak (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland)
    The Gdansk Shakespeare Festival: A Shakespeare Theatrical Event
  6. Isabel Guerrero Lorente (University of Murcia, Spain)
    The Almagro Festival and its Shakespearean variety
  7. Ivan Lupic (Stanford University, USA)
    What’s Past is Prologue: Ragusan Shakespeare
  8. Boika Sokolova (University of Notre Dame in London, UK)
    Grassroots Shakespeare: Thirteen Years of Performance in the Village of Patalenitsa, Bulgaria
  9. Erin Sullivan (Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, UK)
    Digital Shakespeare and Festive Time
  10. Patricio Orozco (director of Próspero Producciones, Argentina)
    The Buenos Aires Shakespeare Festival
  11. Julia Paraizs (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary)
    Shakespeare Festival – Gyula, Hungary
  12. Guy Roberts (artistic director of Prague Shakespeare festival)
    Prague Shakespeare Company


This international and comparative seminar aims to bring together practitioners, festival staff, actors and directors, performance critics and theatre historians to discuss the recent past, present and future of Shakespearean festivals in Europe, North America and beyond. The seminar will consider festivals focusing exclusively on Shakespeare and festivals in which Shakespeare is significantly involved, drama festivals and arts festivals, experimental festivals which are laboratories for creation and festivals which showcase national or international contemporary artistic creation. Participants are invited to explore the aesthetic, structural, historical and/or socio-political interactions between Shakespeare and the festivals he informs, and the modalities of such interactions.

The following questions are meant to provide a framework which will facilitate the comparative study between the different festivals:

  • What is the status of Shakespeare in the festival: is it a Shakespeare festival? a drama or arts festival in which the Shakespearean corpus plays a major part? In the latter case, how frequently is Shakespeare performed? What is the proportion of Shakespearean productions? Are Shakespearean productions commissionned by the festival director/programmer?
  • What scope or necessity is there for non-Shakespearean performance in the festival?
  • In non exclusively Shakespearean festivals, are Shakespearean productions considered as a guaranteed income or a vector for aesthetic experimentation and avant-garde productions?
  • How and when did the festival emerge?
  • Was it a local project/enterprise/priority/ambition?
  • Which institution(s) organise it?
  • How long does the festival last and what is its frequency?
  • Is it a generic or a themed event (topic, play, etc)?
  • In what type of venue is Shakespeare staged? Indoors or out in the open? Are site-specific productions encouraged?
  • What is the relationship between funding and artistic policy?
  • How does the festival relate to academia, education, tourism, etc?
  • How does the festival relate to other media (TV, radio, internet broadcasting)?
  • What is the relationship between local reviewers and the health of the festival?
  • How do festivals build and sustain audiences?
  • How do festivals measure ‘success’ and ‘impact’?
  • What would a democratic festival look like?
  • What is the financial policy regarding the price of seats?
  • The language(s) of the festival: do they have other events outside the staged productions? Do they offer surtitles? simultaneous translation?
  • Do festival networks benefit individual festivals?
  • How have festivals been represented in fiction (TV, novels, film) and what does this reveal about their cultural reputation?