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The name “Shakespeare” is practically synonymous with English literature, world literature, and the art of theater. Balancing mythic archetypes with historical realism and psychological insight, his works continue to speak across centuries and in multiple settings and media, thanks to the co-creative energy of directors, actors, designers, scholars, editors, translators, teachers, students, readers, and audiences. Shakespeare’s plays are works of dramatic poetry, texts for performance, and unending resources for adaptation, allusion and collaborative world-making. Abounding in higher pleasures, the plays ask all participants in the interpretive and theatrical enterprise to exercise new forms of attention and imagination as well as stretch their historical knowledge and linguistic fluency. Such efforts are most often pursued in the shared spaces of theaters, classrooms and rehearsal rooms, where we learn together how to “find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything” (As You Like It).
Shakespeare has been a part of UCI ever since Clayton Garrison directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the campus’s first class of drama students in 1965. Forty-seven years later, the Claire Trevor School of the Arts launched the New Swan Shakespeare Festival, which performs two plays in repertory each summer in an intimate outdoor theater modeled on an Elizabethan stage. UCI has been home to many distinguished Shakespeare scholars, including Robert Montgomery, James Calderwood and Robert Weimann, and for ten years has sponsored the dynamic Group for the Study of Early Cultures. The UCI Shakespeare Center will build on existing partnerships between Arts and Humanities by developing broad-based, research-driven programming that cultivates the forms of embodied speech, imaginative response and historical reckoning that constitute drama as an art form. Under the leadership of Julia Reinhard Lupton, Professor of English and a Trustee of the Shakespeare Association of America, and Eli Simon, Chancellor’s Professor of Drama and Artistic Director of the New Swan Shakespeare Festival, the Center aims to make UCI the premier institution in California for the integrated production, study and enjoyment of Shakespeare.
Planned Activities for the UCI Shakespeare Center
- Lectures, seminars and weekend retreats organized around New Swan Shakespeare Festival
- Classes, panel discussions, and talk-backs supporting academic-year activities (such as Shaken Shakespeare and Shakespeare Shorts directed by Professor Jane Page and sponsored by Illuminations)
- Summer seminars and workshops for high school teachers
- Research partnerships with the Huntington Library, the Clark Library, and the Folger Library
- Play-reading groups for students and community members
- First Folio Fridays that open Langson Library’s Special Collections to students and the community
- Workshops and master classes with visiting actors, directors, and designers
- Annual Shakespeare Lecture
- Annual Shakespeare Conference
- Thematic programs on drama, law and medicine
- An endowed chair in Shakespeare Studies, joint between English and Drama
“Give me my robe, put on my crown;
I have immortal longings in me ….”
Full Fathom Five, a group of donors that includes several UC faculty members, has already pledged over $30,000 towards the founding of the UCI Shakespeare Center. Your donations can support projects such as the Annual Shakespeare Lecture, the Annual Shakespeare Conference, the Summer Shakespeare Seminar, and the Shaken Shakespeare Roving Shakespeare Festival.
For giving opportunities, please contact Nicole Balsamo, Director of Development, UCI School of Humanities, firstname.lastname@example.org. Let the revels begin!