“This special edition of a forthcoming issue of Shakespeare will focus on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2014 summer season. This will be a season of two halves: on the one hand, artistic director Gregory Doran will continue his productions of Shakespeare’s history plays (begun in winter 2013 with Richard II) with the two parts of Henry IV starring Antony Sher as Falstaff and Jasper Britton as Henry IV and there will be a new production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona. On the other hand, part of the season will consist of a group of plays under the heading ‘Roaring Girls’. These are rarely performed Jacobethan plays and as such build on the RSC’s previously successful 2002 and 2005 Jacobethan seasons. In 2014 the chosen plays will focus on transgressive women: Arden of Faversham, The White Devil, and The Roaring Girl.
Proposals are invited for articles of 6,500 words.
Articles might focus on a production in the context of the play’s performance history; productions in the context of this specific season; or on productions in the context of British and/or international Renaissance drama production.
Articles might address (but are in no way limited to) the following issues:
- Exploration of the interplay between these Shakespearean and non-Shakespearean plays which will be performed in different theatre spaces.
- How the transgressive women of the plays in the ‘Roaring Girls’ section of the season are interpreted and performed.
- The RSC website states of the production of The White Devil that ‘[director] Maria Aberg will take a bold approach to this bloodthirsty tale of murder and revenge by John Webster’. On whose terms will this production be ‘bold’? Will this challenge what can be viewed as the conservatism of the RSC?
- The 2013 RSC season also saw the performance of a violated woman and a transgressive woman in Titus Andronicus. Where will these new productions fit in the context of the RSC’s history?
- How will these productions respond to other more recent portrayals of femininity on the British stage? This may cover both Renaissance and modern plays, addressing where the RSC fits in Britain’s current theatrical culture.
- The histories are plays that Phyllis Rackin has called ‘the least hospitable to women’ which would apply here to the Henry IV plays, but the collection of plays given over to women in this season do not appear (on the surface) to champion women either. How will the productions address this issue?
- There are elements of history in both sides of this season: these Jacobethan plays portray real personages and events in the ‘Roaring Girls’ season as well as in the histories. How will history be treated in these plays which are proposed as comedies and tragedies rather than histories? What effects will this have on the performances of the women and their reception?
- The Shakespearean plays being performed are Henry IV and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The non-Shakespearean plays are under the heading ‘Roaring Girls’. Is it fair to view these productions along lines of femininity and masculinity?
- How these ‘new’ histories respond not only to historical and current contexts but also how they specifically respond to RSC’s theatre history.
- The 2013 season may be viewed as a transitional period for the RSC between the directorship of Michael Boyd and Doran. This 2014 season then represents Doran’s first full season as the new artistic director. These two years therefore could be viewed as a period of looking forward but also looking back. How might Doran’s approach to the RSC, programming the season, and directing this season differ from Boyd’s (especially as Doran’s histories, including Richard II are coming only five years after Boyd’s tour de force production of The Histories)? What might this suggest for the RSC looking forward?
For consideration please send abstracts of 250-300 words to Kate.Wilkinson@shu.ac.uk by 31st January 2014.
Accepted articles should be completed by 31st October 2014.
Also welcome are reviews of the productions making up this season.”