YISF 2024 Through the Eyes of our Literature at Work Placement Students 

Here at York St John University, we are extremely proud to announce our official sponsorship of the York International Shakespeare Festival for its 2024 edition. After the resounding success of last year’s festival, we continue to bring innovative, exciting Shakespeare/Shakespeare inspired productions to the main stage in our YSJ Creative Centre. Several of our students are taking part in work placements with the festival via the Literature at Work module. Here is their overview of the events they have been working on. The YISF 2024 edition runs from 18th-28th April. Student concessions are only £5! Some events are free to attend. Programme information can be found here (click through individual events to book). Pick up a copy of our beautiful brochure! And if you want to get involved, either now or in the future, please get in touch. If you want to review any events for our blogs, please email s.vickerswalkling@yorksj.ac.uk and info@yorkshakes.co.uk 

BECOMING OTHELLO by Debra-Ann Byrd introduced by Dulcie Welsh (Artist Liaison)  

African American actress plays OthelloCome see the UK premiere of Debra Ann Byrd’s critically acclaimed one woman show Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey, in which she combines Shakespeare’s verse with song and memoir to tell her story. Debra-Ann also founded the Harlem Shakespeare Festival in New York, which supports emerging and professional artists of colour in classical theatre. She will also be providing a performance for visiting schools.   

Purchase your tickets here for £15 or £5 for students and concessions. Join us on the 24th of April (7:30 p.m.) and the 25th of April (11:30 a.m.) at York St John Creative Centre Auditorium for an unforgettable experience.  

In addition, there is to be a talk by Debra Ann-Byrd in conversation in which she will discuss My Black Girl’s Journey. This event will give people the opportunity to reflect on Debra-Ann’s work and to ask any questions during the discussion afterwards, which is to be hosted by Dr Anne-Marie, Head of Humanities. This will be held in the YSJ Creative Centre Auditorium on Wednesday the 25th of April, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Book your free ticket here.  

TWELTH NIGHT by Footsbarn Theatre, introduced by Victoria Walpole (Artist Liaison)  

Footsbarn is coming to the York International Shakespeare Festival for their worldWoman dressed as a man stands near the sea premiere performance of Shakespeare Twelfth Night! Footsbarn is one of the world’s leading travelling theatre companies and specialises in performing in untraditional performance spaces – they usually travel with a circus big top!  Directed by Sadie Jemmett, this production promises to be a unique and vibrant interpretation of the play, exploring gender identity in a thought-provoking way. With spectacles of live music, original songs, and classic comedy clowning, this highly anticipated performance is not to be missed!    

Don’t wait, buy your tickets here for £15 or £5 for students and concessions. Join us on the 27th of April (7:30 p.m.) and 28th April (2:00 p.m.) at York St John Creative Centre Auditorium for an unforgettable experience. 

Conferences and Symposiums introduced by Esme Bainbridge (Events Organiser)   

Young female academicI’ve been liaising with visiting academics, speakers and panel participants as organiser of the Shakespeare and Identity Symposium which I am convening with Dr Saffron Vickers Walkling. This symposium will be held in The Creative Centre at York St John University on Saturday the 27th of April, 2:00 pm – 6 pm. There will be a wide range of guest speakers, including Dr Varsha Panjwani, discussing the theme of identity in the context of the Indian changling boy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and panels of artists from Ukraine to the UK discussing Shakespeare’s work. Book your free tickets here. There are opportunities for students and staff to speak on one of the panels. If you are interested do get in touch with Esme (esme.bainbridge@yorksj.ac.uk).  

 In addition to this event, we are also hosting a range of workshops, readings, talks, and displays. With content ranging from a Turkish Production of Macbeth to a celebration of Shakespeare in European Communities – a day of clebration and discovery with those who are making the work – this festival aligns closely with York St John University’s commitment to social justice, inclusion and diversity.  

Shakespeare Exhibitions introduced by Grace Tanner (Exhibition Curator with Emily Shaw)  

This year’s exhibitions focus on the different representations of Shakespeare.  At York StManga Hamlet John, there will be a Shakespeare and Manga exhibition running from Wednesday the 24th of April to Sunday the 28th of April. This will be in the Creative Centre Atrium. There will be a short informal opening of the exhibition at 6:30 pm on the 24th, with a chance to meet and talk with the artists. There will also be a talk on Manga: Shakespeare Illustrated featuring five distinguished artists and academics: Inko Ai Takita, Ryuta Minami, Yukari Yoshihara, Chie Kutsuwada, and Ronan Paterson. This event will take place on Thursday the 25th at 7:30 p.m. in Creative Centres Auditorium. Book here for the talk. There is also a chance to take part in a public workshop with the featured artists on Friday the 26th of April, from 2:30 pm to 6:00 pm at St Olave’s Church Hall, York. Book here for workshop . The illustrated talk is £15 a ticket, or £5 for concessions. The workshop is £15 a ticket (contact Saffron about concessions/comps for this off campus event). 

At the York Explore library, there will be an Images of Othello exhibition running from the 13th of April to the 23rd of May.  Both of these exhibitions feature representations of Shakespeare from all over the world, and they’re free!   

Grace Ebberley (Volunteer Coordinator) has written about her work placement experience for the YSJ Life Blog. “My role in this year’s festival is volunteer liaison and recruitment – or, to put it simply, encouraging other YSJ students to get involved with the festival and make sure everything runs smoothly for them.   student volunteers

The festival so far has been a joy to volunteer for, and I’m super excited to get stuck in with all the upcoming events. Hopefully, by the end of this blog post, you’ll consider coming along to some of these events.” Read more from Grace here: https://blog.yorksj.ac.uk/ysjlife/2024/04/09/my-experience-volunteering-for-the-york-international-shakespeare-festival/   

Other Events and Opportunities   

Ukrainian actors arrive in YorkContinuing our support of Ukrainian artists, YISF have collaborated with the National Theatre of Ivano-Frankivsk from Ukraine and performers from the Ukrainian community in York to bring you an important and prompt new production Working Title: A Collaboration. Practitioners and academics from the YISF will be working with our students across Humanities and Arts. Please consider buying a Pass It on Ticket for a refugee or asylum seeker in York. You can book this for any paid event and it can be reallocated to a show of the recipient’s choice. 

Support us here See you there! 

The Annual English Literature Research Showcase – 15th April 2024

English Literature Research Showcase – 15th April 5pm-7pm

The annual English Literature Research Showcase is an evening in which we learn about colleagues’ specialist projects. This is a chance to celebrate the rich and varied range of research that defines the department and shapes our teaching.

This year we will hear about Patti Smith’s punk queering of masculine spaces, Mark Lanegan’s destabilising of grunge myth, Medieval ghost stories, ‘good hating’ from Alexander Pope to Samuel Johnson, and critically controversial diagnoses of Charlotte Brontë’s pregnancy and death. 

Please join us in learning about the important work that Literature staff and research students are engaged with. There will some refreshments provided following the event and a chance for some informal conversation.

Please book your FREE ticket here

Dive into the York Shakespeare Festival as a Festival Volunteer!

 

Hey there, Shakespeare enthusiasts and creative minds of York! Are you ready to turn your passion for the Bard into a thrilling volunteering experience? The York International Shakespeare Festival is just around the corner, running from the 18th to the 27th of April, and we’ve got some exciting opportunities waiting for you! Whether you’re a die-hard Shakespeare fan or just looking to spice up your C.V., we’ve got a role for everyone.

 

Embrace the Excitement: Become a Festival Volunteer!

Whether you’re interested in ushering, marketing, event organisation, or social media and content creation, there’s a place for you in this exciting journey!

 

Why Volunteer, You Ask?

 

Free Access to Events

Picture this: not only do you get to be part of the magic behind the scenes, but you also get a ticket to some of the festival’s events – for free! As a Festival Volunteer, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of your labour by attending select shows and immersing yourself in the enchanting world of Shakespeare without spending a penny.

 

Festival Program Now Available: http://yorkshakes.co.uk/programme-2024/

 

Boost Your CV and Develop Your Graduate Attributes

 

Being a Festival Volunteer isn’t just about the joy of contributing to a cultural extravaganza; it’s also a fantastic addition to your CV. Employers love to see candidates who have actively participated in community events and taken on responsibilities beyond the classroom. Your volunteering stint will showcase your dedication, teamwork, and ability to take initiative – qualities that stand out in the professional world.

 

How to Get Involved

Fill out this form: https://form.jotform.com/240395509337057 and let the Shakespearean adventure begin! Any questions, contact Skylar at skylar@parrabbola.co.uk

 

Don’t miss this chance to immerse yourself in the world of Shakespeare, make lasting memories, and build a CV that shines as brightly as the stage lights. Become a Festival Volunteer and let the magic unfold!

Are you ready for Folk Horror February?

Staff, students and members of the public are invited to join the #FolkHorrorFeb reading challenge.


Join Professor Robert Edgar (Creative Writing) and Dr Adam J Smith (English Literature) for the virtual February Folk Horror Reading Circle.

Following the recent publication of the Routledge Companion to Folk Horror (edited by Robert Edgar and Wayne Johnson and featuring an essay written by Adam J Smith) and leading into a day of Folk Horror events at this year’s York Literature Festival, Adam and Rob will be reading one short story a week for the next for weeks, and you can read along too!

Each story is taken from Circles of Stone: Weird Tales of Pagan Sites and Ancient Rites, a recently published anthology of stories spanning from the 19th to the 21st centuries.

Circles of Stone was edited by Dr Katy Soar, who you can and come see live in conversation with Adam at the York Literature Festival on 2 March (reserve your free space here).

To get involved, all you need is to follow our reading schedule and post your thoughts, reflections, favourite quotes or book photos using #FolkHorrorFeb on Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), BlueSky or TikTok (or just read along in the privacy of your own mind/email Adam and Rob with your thoughts).

 #FolkHorrorFeb Reading Schedule

 

3-9th Feb The Spirit of Stonehenge by Rosalie Helen Muspratt (writing as Jasper John)
10-16th Feb The Tarn of Sacrifice by Algernon Blackwood
17-23rd Feb The Dark Land by Mary Williams
24th Feb-1st March Minuke by Nigel Kneale

LGBT History Month Events at YSJ

Non binary person in floral top looks at camera
Dom&Ink

Let’s celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month!

February is LGBTQ+ History Month!

We are very excited to celebrate and there’s a lot to get hyped about at YSJ:

 

Free Speech and Hate Speech: Analysing ‘anti-gender’ Discourse

7th February 2024, 4:30-5:30pm, Creative Centre Auditorium

This LGBTQ+ History Month talk focuses on what is commonly referred to as homophobic and transphobic ‘soft hate speech’ which (unlike ‘hard’ hate) operates within the limits of the law and may be perceived as ‘sayable’ in the public sphere. This makes it more difficult to recognize and challenge. This talk is being given by our very own Helen Sauntson (Professor of English Language and Linguistics) and is going to be a must-be-at event. Book your ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lgbtqhm-free-speech-and-hate-speech-analysing-anti-gender-discourse-tickets-756706679047?aff=oddtdtcreator

In Conversation with Dom&Ink

Tuesday 13th February, 6-8pm, Creative Centre Auditorium

Come along and listen to illustrator and author Dom&Ink talk about their work, from illustrating RuPaul’s Drag Race for the BBC to writing their new graphic novel. Dom will be interviewed by Lali from York’s own The Portal Bookshop, and the event will be followed by a book signing and drinks reception. Book your ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lgbtqhm-2024-in-conversation-with-domink-tickets-780078825767?aff=oddtdtcreator 

Can you Adam and Eve It? Queering Heterosexuality in Genesis

Wednesday 21st February, 4-6pm, Creative Centre

Join us at York St John University for this hybrid event to mark LGBT History Month 2024. Hosted by the Centre for Religion in Society, hear Dr Chris Greenough’s talk, ‘Can you Adam and Eve it? Queering Heterosexuality in the Genesis Narrative’, followed by Q+A and a drinks reception. Book your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lgbtqhm-can-you-adam-and-eve-it-queering-heterosexuality-in-genesis-tickets-732646233607?aff=oddtdtcreator

 

“Thinking Big Thoughts: A Showcase of Trans and Non-binary Scholarship”- Call-out for participants!

Transgender flag in blue white pink and words Transgender Day of VisibilityOn Wednesday 13th March 2-4pm, in the run-up to Transgender Day of Visibility, the LGBTQ+ Staff Network and the Athena Swan Initiative are holding a hybrid event to celebrate trans and non-binary scholarship at York St John University. This will be an informal, supportive space where all members of staff and students who are trans, non-binary, gender-diverse or are creating work related to these communities are encouraged to take part and share their work. Whether you are a first-year undergrad with an essay you’d like to share or a seasoned academic, we want to hear from you!

We welcome our London staff and student scholars to join the event, as hybrid presentations are possible.

This is a supportive space for trans, non-binary or gender-diverse scholars and students to share their work. If you know of anyone (staff or students) at YSJ who would be interested in presenting their work, we want to celebrate your contribution to the YSJ community. For more information, please contact Naomi Orrell at LGBTQPlusStaff@yorksj.ac.uk.

Words Matter Prize 2023

This year, the Words Matter prize is being awarded to two recipients. For the first time, the English Literature team are recognizing outstanding academic achievement by students completing the first year of their degree in both single honours and joint honours cohorts.

This year’s winners are English Literature student Maddison ‘Madz’ Warley and English Literature and Creative Writing student Amy Platt.

Level Four co-ordinator Dr Fraser Mann says:

“Madz and Amy are both superb students. Their dedication to the subject and their participation in university life are admirable. They have made rapid and remarkable progress and deserve real recognition for this success. They are both an asset to English Literature at York St John.”

On receiving news of the award, a delighted Madz said:

“I put off university for years over fears it wouldn’t be the right environment for me, so winning this genuinely means the world to me. It’s total Rory Gilmore vibes. The first year of university has truly been one of the best experiences of my life. The English Literature team have been so supportive and I’ve enjoyed every lecture and seminar. Thank you to every friend and lecturer that has supported me so far.”

Amy was equally happy and said:

“Receiving the Words Matter Prize is such an honour and something that I will treasure forever. I feel as though it is only fair that I express my gratitude to everyone who has made this journey possible. To every lecturer, tutor, peer, and friend, thank you for making my first year at university the most wonderful and rewarding experience.”

Madz and Amy will receive their awards during this year’s Words Matter Lecture. We would like to congratulate them on their success and wish them all the best for the rest of their degrees.

Upcoming Event: Annual YSJ Words Matter Lecture, ‘Speculations on Embodiment’

Liesl King is a white woman with long red hair and a smileThis year’s YSJ Literature’s annual Words Matter Lecture  will be delivered by Dr Liesl King, speaking about ‘Speculations on Embodiment’ . This will take place on Thursday 7th December, starting at 6pm, with a drinks reception at 7pm. 

This year’s lecture will explore ways in which the word ‘embodiment’ has inspired Dr Liesl King’s teaching practice, university projects, and publications. She will consider the representation of embodied living in the fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin, the ‘tertium quid’ in Dr Angela Voss’ approach to classroom teaching, and the concept of ‘sensuous knowledge’ advanced by Minna Salami in her critical work of the same name published in 2020. The presentation will look at three ways in which Liesl, sometimes through hindsight, has drawn on the word ‘embodiment’ to inform her approach to academic practice: her online science fiction magazine, Terra Two: An Ark for Off World Survival, her upcoming co-written guidebook on Speculative Fiction (New Critical Idiom series, Routledge), and her nascent project on the ‘Embodied University’.

For more details and to sign up, please refer to the Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wordsmatter-dr-liesl-king-tickets-732688941347?aff=oddtdtcreator

One writer leads you to another – discovering Lemn Sissay’s ‘Let the Light Pour In’ by Anna Brizzolara

Anna Brizzolara is a student on the YSJ Creative Writing MA who has recently been focussing on Critical Approaches to Creative Writing. This is Anna’s review of Lemn Sissay’s recent poetry reading at Manchester Literature Festival. Sissay’s adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis is coming to York Theatre Royal 10th-14th October 2023.

a man in a yellow suit performs on a large stage
Lemn Sissay performing at Home, Manchester (c) Anna Brizzolara

I wanted tickets to see Zadie Smith.

That’s how I found Lemn Sissay.

He shared the programme for the Manchester Literature Festival alongside Zadie’s sold-out event.

Lemn hosted an evening at ‘Home’. Home, a theatre, gallery, independent film screen and all-round centre of creativity and culture that had a cosy, community feel. It opened in 2015 in the heart of Manchester; relaxed, no fancy wine list, plenty of craft beer and pots of pic ‘n’ mix. Volunteers in printed T-shirts smiled, ushered you along brushed concrete corridors and showed you to your multi-coloured upholstered seats.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Continue reading “One writer leads you to another – discovering Lemn Sissay’s ‘Let the Light Pour In’ by Anna Brizzolara”

ESEA Heritage Month 2023: Books to Read and Films to Watch

Dr Saffron Vickers Walkling introduces titles to look out for this ESEA Heritage Month and beyond.  Saffron lived and worked in China for five years, and their research area includes late twentieth century Chinese Shakespeare in performance.

September is East and South East Asian Heritage Month. Founded in 2021 by Britain’s East and South East Asian Network (besea.n), it commemorates “those who have contributed positively to British society” and celebrates “the richness of ESEA culture”, says Michelle Chan. 

In alphabetical order, East Asian and South East Asian countries include: Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. 

Besea.n say that their “vision is one where our communities are seen and supported in all spaces”. This includes the sold out ESEA Lit Fest at Foyles Bookshop in London, which started on 23rd September 2023.    

Here are some highlights from their Reading List: 

A Lover's DiscourseA Lover’s Discourse by Xiaolu Guo tells of a Chinese woman’s life in London, reflecting on the nature of cross-cultural love and language. The title references Roland Barthes’ book of the same name, and its Cantonese film adaptation. Novelist and filmmaker Guo came to YSJ in 2008 as part of our China Week to speak about her debut English-language novel A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, which our first years were studying on their Gender and Writing module. Although not a sequel, A Lover’s Discourse revisits and reframes many of the tropes of the earlier book. Her film She, A Chinese is also currently showing on Channel 4. 

Night Sky with Exit WoundsNight Sky with Exit Wounds is a collection of poetry by the Vietnamese-American writer and academic Ocean Vuong, reflecting on his refugee experience – both its horrors and its wonders.

Vuong’s novel On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous sustained us through the long holiday of 2021 as our Big Summer Read. See more here.

 

YellowfaceIf you want something that will shock and amuse you in equal measures, check out Yellowface by R. F. Kuang, a hilarious satire on the ultimate in literary cultural appropriation…

This bestseller combines big ideas with humour and is simultaneously thought-provoking and immensely readable! 

 

 

Never Let Me GoIf you’ve never read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, then now is the time to remedy this.

A firm A-level favourite for many years, Ishiguro’s novel about a group of young people at an English boarding school quickly reveals the dystopian side of its apparent idyllic setting. 

 

 

Ping Pong (1986 film) - WikipediaIf it’s film you are interested in, Channel 4 has a selection for ESEA, including the first ever British Chinese feature film, Ping Pong, which I’ve reviewed here. “Elaine Choi (Sheen), a trainee lawyer tasked with executing the will of local businessman Sam Wong, whose body has been found in a telephone box, receiver still in hand. The trouble is, she can’t read Chinese characters.”

 

 

You can find Film 4’s complete ESEA listings here:

#PRIDE2023: SHAKESPEARE? MORE LIKE SHAKESQUEER! RuPaul’s Drag Race by Roger Tomas Arques

Drag Queen RuPaul in Shakespeare inspired drag
Image via @RuPaulsDragRace

“To she, or not to she?” Spanish ERASMUS exchange student Roger Tomas Arques recently took our Shakespeare Perspectives module. For Pride Season 2023, he looks at the connections between Shakespeare’s theatre and Ru Paul’s Drag Race

Recently, I was watching RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars 8’s new episode as I do every Friday and then I thought something. Did you know that when watching RuPaul’s Drag Race you are seeing a Shakespearean thing? 

Image from the British Library collection: Mark Rylance getting into costume as Olivia for Shakespeare’s Globe’s all male production of Twelfth Night.

“Drag may trace its roots to the age of William Shakespeare, when female roles were performed by men”. In Shakespeare’s times, women were not allowed to be on stage, so men were playing women’s roles. During those days acting was not considered a very refined work, so if a woman acted, she would be considered a sex worker. As Shakespeare’s contemporary said, “Our Players are not as the players beyond sea, a sort of squirting baudie Comedians.” (Thomas Nashe) However, it was not just a costumes thing. The writer had to find men that could perfectly represent a woman with their gestures, movements, and so on.

Now drag has changed and everyone can do it.   Continue reading “#PRIDE2023: SHAKESPEARE? MORE LIKE SHAKESQUEER! RuPaul’s Drag Race by Roger Tomas Arques”

Tommy Parker on Ageing, Maturity and Embracing Change

Content warning: This personal reflection deals with issues of PTSD and suicidal thoughts. Links for support are provided at the bottom of the post. 

 Second Year Creative Writing student Tommy Parker reflects upon his own experiences as a mature student returning to York St John to begin a second degree course. 

Copyright York St John

Walking through the city, enjoying a 71% Ecuador hot chocolate with chilli and Captain Morgans, while listening to Alestorm has given me a rare chance for silent reflection. The theme of this years creative writing project, the Beyond the Wall’s anthology, is ageing, a subject that is often on my mind as a mature student. In particular, I often find myself dwelling on my perceived failings, feeling I have not accomplished enough in my late twenties to justify my continued existence on this planet. It is in rare moments such as now that give me the opportunity to escape my own head, allowing me clarity to see that life is not a line graph. Age does not equal maturity in itself, and you cannot simply look at a graph for it. Life is not as simple as AGE + MATURITY = STAGE IN LIFE. Over my time at York St John I have come to understand that the true determining factor of emotional maturity is life experience. Continue reading “Tommy Parker on Ageing, Maturity and Embracing Change”

Michael Colk: Macbeth Review for YISF

Flabbergast Macbeth (c) Mike Lynch

Michael is a second year Creative Writing and Media student at York St John and a volunteer blog reviewer for York International Shakespeare Festival. In this review, Michael looks at Flabbergast Theatre’s production of ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ performed in the York St John Creative Centre on the 26th of April 2023. 

Shakespeare gets a bad reputation in my opinion. From the time were born we are told that he was and is the greatest writer that has ever come from this country, that every work he’s ever written is a masterpiece. So we must diligently study his texts and analyse them, we must perform them with the utmost respect for the source material. This leads to a lot of people hating Shakespeare and condemning it as dry or boring or too difficult to understand or… you get the idea. But actually, Shakespeare can be fun. 

I’ve always loved Macbeth, I studied it in high school so it’s one of the few Shakespeare plays I actually know and understand. I’ve always loved Lady Macbeth as a character, the ideas of betrayal and guilt that get explored, the context in which the play itself was written, but I’ve never seen that many performances of it. I watched a few films that played with the setting but not in any way other than superficially and there was a touring group who performed a few fight scenes from it in my school assembly hall which was quite entertaining, but this was the first time I’d seen a full stage production of it and I really enjoyed it. 

The whole thing felt like watching a bunch of kids playing pretend in the muddy parts of some dense woods. It really hit me in the scene where Macbeth kills Duncan, the actors all pulled out small sticks for daggers and it reminded me of running through this forest near the top of the street of my childhood home. I’d brandish my own sticks as swords and duel with my sister or use them as ways of clearing my treacherous path on the long (short) journey it took to walk down to the corner shop to claim my reward (a pick a mix bag usually containing a jelly snake, my favourite). Despite the tragedy of the story, the performers all seemed to be so joyous and enthusiastic about what they were doing, they had the permission to run around, shout and scream just as kids do.

Macbeth and witches
Flabbergast Macbeth (c) Mike Lynch

It also brought back these ideas of the roots of storytelling sitting around a fire in the darkness, the primal and animalistic nature that is inherent in performance. At times, the whole show felt like one big ritual, the witches and supernatural being such a strong part of the original play definitely contributed to this but the rhythmic chanting and general atmosphere brought by the performers made it a much more intimate experience. At times it was almost psychedelic, with lights and shadows being cast everywhere, the only thing I think could have made it more intense would have been a fog machine.

The one thing I was anticipating the entire time throughout the show was the Porter’s scene that takes place just after Duncan’s murder. The Porter is there to add levity to the otherwise dark narrative and in my experience often goes overlooked when read or performed because as we all know ‘Shakespeare is a prestigious institution’. But I think a few lewd jokes after a murder has just taken place is quite necessary. I can honestly say that in this performance, the Porter’s scenes were some of my favourite moments. These scenes were the only point at which the script diverged from the original but it still captured the same humour of the source material. It again reminded me of a child, running about making jokes out of nothing and interjecting at inappropriate moments because they don’t know any better. 

So, despite the dark and tragic nature of Macbeth and the play itself I would have to say that this production did indeed make Shakespeare fun.

If you would like to read another review of ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’, check out Grace Laidler’s piece on the Words Matter Blog: Grace Laidler: Macbeth Review for YISF – Words Matter. (yorksj.ac.uk)

“Uncut Leaves”: On Literature and Its Uses – 2022 Words Matter Lecture on YouTube

The Annual Words Matter Lecture on YouTube

You might be interested to know that Dr Adam J Smith’s Words Matter lecture is available to view and listen on YouTube: click here!

Adam’s lecture in October last year considered the “uses” of literature as protest, propaganda and satire, and warned of the dangers of not reading the book. It was a fantastic event, so if you missed it, catch up – or if you’d like to relive the moment, watch again!