Much ado about Shake­speare

IN RE­MEM­BRANCE Stu­dents of Birm­ing­ham City Univer­sity recre­ated the Bard’s best cre­ations

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - HT Education Correspondent

Romeo ro­mances Juliet, Cal­iban is as malev­o­lent as ever, and Julius Ce­sar – well, there is still a con­spir­acy afoot to as­sas­si­nate him. Shake­speare’s char­ac­ters were brought to life re­cently to com­mem­o­rate 400 years since The Bard of Avon’s death. And at Birm­ing­ham City Univer­sity (UK) stu­dents just cel­e­brated his life in a unique way. A life-size art in­stal­la­tion fea­tur­ing more than a dozen of Shake­speare’s most fa­mous cre­ations hand­crafted from pa­per and card­board caused much ado about ‘some­thing’ re­cently.

On dis­play were scale mod­els of over six feet tall, a three­me­tre-high bal­cony and even a walk-in tav­ern.

Each piece in the in­stal­la­tion was in­di­vid­u­ally crafted by 22 first year stu­dents from the Univer­sity’s De­sign for Theatre, Per­for­mance and Events de­gree course.

They used tech­niques learned on the course to sculpt 780 me­ters of cor­ru­gated card­board and nearly 5,000 me­ters of brown pa­per into the en­tire set­ting and char­ac­ters.

Among the fig­ures on show were a l ike­ness of Wil­liam Shake­speare writ­ing at his desk and full size repli­cas of some of theatre’s most fa­mous names – in­clud­ing Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear and Cal­iban.

The ex­hi­bi­tion took nearly three weeks to cre­ate, with stu­dents work­ing day and night to make each set­ting, char­ac­ter and item from scratch, as well as se­lect­ing mu­sic and light­ing to com­ple­ment each el­e­ment.

For Hol­lie Wright, mod­ule leader for the pro­ject, the pro­ject was a sim­ple yet ex­tremely ef­fec­tive ap­proach to ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing. “We want the first year stu­dents to en­gage with fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples as­so­ci­ated with per­for­mance de­sign in­clud­ing scale, nar­ra­tive, space, light, sound, au­di­ence and col­lab­o­ra­tion; as well as abil­i­ties that are dif­fi­cult to teach like tenac­ity and de­ter­mi­na­tion.”

The pro­ject be­gan with s t udents re­search­ing and re­spond­ing in­di­vid­u­ally to a given theme – which this year was Shake­speare. Ideas were pitched and a fi­nal one cho­sen to re­alise to full scale out of th­ese ba­sic ma­te­ri­als.

The tav­ern in the in­stal­la­tion was in­tended to repli­cate Lon­don’s his­toric Gorge Inn, where his­tory’s most fa­mous play­wright is be­lieved to have penned many of his works.

Tra­di­tional El­iz­a­bethan mu­sic played through­out the ex­hi­bi­tion hall along­side words taken from Two Noble Kins­men – Shake­speare’s fi­nal play – as a poignant trib­ute to his last­ing legacy.

The Shake­speare Birth­place Trust helped stu­dents re­search the pro­ject and vis­ited the in­stal­la­tion to se­lect a num­ber of char­ac­ters and set­tings – which are to be fi­nally dis­played across Shake­speare’s home­town of Strat­ford-upon-Avon when the pro­ject ends.

Marie Bren­nan, cre­ative pro g r ammes mana g e r f or The Shake­speare Birth­place Trust, said: “The re­mit of the Shake­speare Birth­place Trust is to help the world’s un­der­stand­ing of the life and works of Shake­speare.

“It’s very rare that you get an art in­stal­la­tion that re­ally looks at the times that Shake­speare was writ­ing in as well as look­ing at new in­ter­pre­ta­tions of his own work, so it’s re­ally an un­usual and cre­ative con­cept to bring those two to­gether into one in­stal­la­tion.

“We’re de­lighted with this col­lab­o­ra­tion and we’re re­ally ex­cited, that in this im­por­tant year, we’ve got some­thing we can show our guests from all

over the world.”

A in­stal­la­tion with all of Shake­speare’s char­ac­ters made fa­mous to cel­e­brate 400 years since his death (above). (Below, from right) Richard-III, Romeo and Juliet and Julius Cae­sar with his wreath

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