As we entered into our third national lockdown in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic at the beginning of this month, we have asked our students to share their reflections and their tips on online learning. For some students, online learning can seem alien and a challenge, whilst for others it opens up accessibility. Three York St John Literature students from different stages of their degree share their reflections and their tips on approaching online learning in these times. Continue reading “Online Learning: Reflections/Top Tips From Current Students”
We went into the first lockdown the week that our Shakespeare: Perspectives students were due to go on their trip to see The Taming of the Shrew, and, as happened in Shakespeare’s times, the theatres closed, and many people found their livelihoods in jeopardy. Emma Brimelow reflects on the resilience of the theatre community during this pandemic, interviewing Robert Myles, who set the standard for Zoom Shakespeare with his The Show Must Go Online project. As her blog post reveals, innovation and creativity did not come to an end, and she got to review a unique production after all.
What a lot of people hoped would be ‘the best year of their lives’ has slowly turned into one for the books, and sadly not in the way we had hoped. Covid-19 arrived in late January for the UK, and no later than two months after this around a third of the world has been put into some form of lockdown, Great Britain being no exception. On the 23rd of March, Boris Johnson announced everyone who isn’t an essential worker must stay inside and isolate, and many businesses are currently suffering due to forced closure, the theatre being one of them. In the past I’ve enjoyed watching numerous productions, my last being Dick Whittington and His Cat at Romiley Forum, and so I found myself missing the theatre experience. Luckily, Robert Myles has a solution for those of us who are missing out!
Created in less than a week in response to covid-19, ‘The Show Must Go Online’ was thefirst platform to produce Shakespeare for an online audience using online actors. Created on zoom and streamed on YouTube, TSMGO has been named “the most prolific creator of online theatre” by various academics (Medium, 2020), and after watching their production of The Taming of The Shrew it’s clear to see why. The shows stay true to the nature of theatre, including adding intervals, pre- and post-show discussions and adding virtual applause to the Zoom productions on YouTube. The quick response to the pandemic amazed me, with the first show airing the first week of the official lockdown, however I was lucky enough to get in contact with Rob Myles, who shared an exclusive insight into the process of creating TSMGO so fast.
Rob stated that the idea came to him pre-lockdown and was simply an idea until his initial tweet about creating the platform blew up. The first show The Two Gentlemen of Verona aired just six days after that tweet was made, and since then to this day eight more shows have been broadcasted. Rob stated, “We were able to move so quickly because myself and my producing partner Sarah Peachey both work in innovation when we’re not working in the arts, where fast deadlines and online conferencing are both commonplace,” meaning that he was surrounded by a strong support network to get TSMGO going as quick as possible. However, he also told me that “it would have been nothing without the response from actors and theatre makers” which he claims are still reaching out to him today about appearing in future productions. Rob has helped over 150 currently unemployed actors from all over the world, allowing countries to come together and rejoice in such difficult times.
Before I saw any of the live shows, I admit I was sceptical. I’ve seen a couple of Shakespeare productions, including more recently Macbeth at The Royal Exchange Theatre, and wondered how a play would function without the scenery and the costumes, and even more important…the interaction between characters. After watching TSMGO’s rendition of The Taming of the Shrew, I was surprised to see just how well the production flowed. The core of the success of the plays are the actors, who week by week learn a new script off by heart in less than six days, yet still manage to perform with such fluency and enthusiasm!
In the productions, the actors try their hardest to DIY costumes and props, some even including their dogs in the readings! In the reading of The Taming of The Shrew, I particularly enjoyed the couple of stunt doubles (who were isolating together) performing the fight between Katherina and Petruchio. It was staged extremely well and brought an aspect of humour to the reading. To put it simply, Rob Myles and his cast are doing all they can to make the best out of a bad situation.
The first production, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, brought in nearly 35,000 views (Ludmon, 2020) and Rob tells me that “thankfully the interest remains just as strong.” They are currently working through every Shakespeare play in chronological order and anticipate that they should make it through every one of his works by late November. You can support Rob and his team of actors through their patreon, which I have linked below and become a theatre patron yourself:
Update: The Show Must Go Online are still going strong! Check out their latest production Cymbeline. All their productions are available online on YouTube.
Check out The Taming of The Shrew for yourself here:
And Estella Green’s review for us here.
Myles, Rob. Personal Correspondence via Email. 9th May 2020. Used with permission.
We kick off Pride Month with a great reading list with recommendations by Lucy Pettigrew. Do you have a Pride Month list you would like to share with us? If so, send it in.
In a world where sapphics (women who love women, named after the Ancient Greek poet Sappho) are still brushed under the carpet, I always find it difficult to find new media that discusses wlw relationships and feelings. So, I thought I’d compile my own short list of sapphic books, poetry, films and songs to encourage the consumption of more wlw media. Continue reading “Pride Month Sapphic Media Recommendations by Lucy Pettigrew”
BA Creative Writing student Emily Green reflects on what online publications mean for young writers, and how Wattpad, an online community, has helped young writers to become published later on.
The blog and podcast team behind the Beyond the Walls anthology have written a piece on what they are looking for in their submissions. They also share some tips on which themes you can choose to write about.
Katherine Hughes, the Academic Librarian for English Literature, can offer support in many areas of your study. For example, it is possible to book a tutorial with Katharine to get help with finding and evaluating sources. It is also possible to email Katherine (email@example.com) or our general academic liaison inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Words Matter Blog and @LitYSJ Twitter are running a new feature over the coming weeks and it would be brilliant for students to take part.
As Words Matter enters its third year, we’re looking to recruit lots of new writers! More information and Expression of Interest form copied below…
“All The World’s A Stage”
Director Kimberley Sykes combines pantomime, audience interaction, puppetry and musical elements to create a fantastical, almost Brechtian approach to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s current production of As You Like It.
For the past eleven weeks, I’ve constantly been reminded in lectures and seminars that Shakespeare’s plays are texts that were written with the intention to be performed on a stage, not to be read in a classroom. My Shakespeare: Perspectives module’s two-day trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon proved that there’s more to the Bard’s plays than just text to be analysed. Shakespeare’s plays offer escapism, a chance to get away from reality with friends or family and I was lucky enough to escape to the Forest of Arden in the most recent production of As You Like It. Continue reading ““All The World’s A Stage”. Mollie Pigott reflects on the RSC’s production of As You Like It (Shakespeare: Perspectives Trip 2019)”
In a final farewell post. soon-to-be graduating student and retiring Words Matter sub-editor Charlotte Stevenson reflects on her undergraduate programme and says goodbye to all the teachers who have taught her.
Terra Two Anthology Launch with special guest Temi Oh
“The note that I took from this morning’s launch was that exploration into exploration of space is often an exploration into the self.” Annice White reflects on the Terra Two Anthology launch earlier this year on 16th March 2019.
As a fan of realist fiction, currently researching fictional representations of the Yorkshire Ripper, I would not call myself a science fiction fan. However, when York Literature Festival advertised their spec-fiction day I thought I’d step out of comfort zone and see what sci-fi is all about.
Before today I had this notion that Sci-fi is about things that don’t or wouldn’t happen. However, as I learnt today, it isn’t that the things in sci-fi aren’t real, it’s that we don’t want them to be. Continue reading “Sci-fic for a realist: ‘we need it now more than ever’. Annice White reflects on the Terra Two Anthology Launch #YorkLiteratureFestival”
By Charlotte Crawshaw
Thursday 9th May saw the opening of the York International Shakespeare Festival, kicking off with the fantastic performance of ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ at the Friargate Theatre. Director Paul Burbage provided an interesting and modern take on the performance, in the note from Burbage he said ‘with a little fine-tuning, a surprisingly contemporary voice emerges’ which he succeeded with.
Even before the performance began the take on the performance was very interesting, as the players were introduced to the audience as people working on the set. It was really interesting to be able to see all of the players before the performance actually begun. The set itself was minimalist, yet impressive and immersive. The set consisted of two tables, which moved around the stage periodically as the scenes changed. The seating in the theatre draw the members of the audience in, making everyone feel involved in the performance.
Thank you to Sophie Lake for letting us know about this excellent opportunity for Literature and Creative Writing Students!
By Abi Whitaker and EllIe Anderson-Ingham
On the night of the 21st of February York Theatre Royal hosted the SLAP event ‘Fat Girl Singing’ by Emma Geraghty. Here Abi and Ellie discuss the performance.