In The Taming of the Shrew, is Katherine and Petruchio’s relationship crackling with sexual tension, or lovelessly enforced by patriarchal violence? Is A Midsummer Night’s Dream a hymn to marriage, or does wife-swapping, sexual masochism and bestiality win the day? Is PTSD a condition of Coriolanus or of the play itself?
For Oxford’s Emma Smith, Shakespeare knows as much about intersectionality as about Ovid. In a journey that ranges from Freud to Friends, from Aristotle to Homer Simpson, from Machiavelli to #MeToo, Emma will introduce us to a working playwright unafraid to pose awkward and difficult questions that still vex, perplex and enthral us in 2019.
With readings from one of the most accomplished actors of our time – Michael Pennington, Natascha McEhlone and Jonathan Forbes – this live event will reveal, not resolve, the ambiguities of Shakespeare’s plays. Debunking our obsession with what Shakespeare ‘really meant’, Emma will argue that Shakespeare’s gappiness, not genius, is his defining characteristic. His plays are alive in unpredictable and changing ways, forever open to reinterpretation across cultures and time – and wonderfully unsuited to the school exam system.
Praise for Emma Smith:
“I admire the freshness and attack of her writing, the passion and curiosity that light up the page. The book does something very important – it makes you impatient to see or re-read the plays at once.” – Hilary Mantel
“If I were asked to recommend one guide for readers keen on discovering what’s at stake in Shakespeare’s plays, This Is Shakespeare would be it.” – James Shapiro, author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare
This event is in the Main Hall on the ground floor (Ground floor – accessible. Induction loop audio). For accessibility info: conwayhall.org.uk/about/visiting-us