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0:00:05.280,0:00:12.080This is Speaking of Shakespeare conversations about things Shakespearean I'm Thomas Dabbs0:00:12.080,0:00:15.920broadcasting from Aoyama Gakuin University in central Tokyo0:00:17.120,0:00:25.440this talk is with Andy Kessen of the University of Roehampton among many research accomplishments in0:00:25.440,0:00:35.440early modern drama Andy has recently assembled a team and secured a substantial AHRC grant to study0:00:35.440,0:00:43.840bears and bear baiting in Elizabethan England the project is entitled Box Office Bears0:00:46.160,0:00:51.120This talk is made possible with institutional funding from Aoyama Gakuin University0:00:51.680,0:00:57.840and with the support of a generous grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.0:00:58.800,0:01:06.160Well hello Andy hello again it's been a it's been too long it's been too long and0:01:06.160,0:01:11.200i think we go back i think we've known each other because we've had similar research interests for0:01:11.200,0:01:17.280you know me for more years than you but that i don't know when we first met it may have been0:01:17.280,0:01:24.480in canada it may have been at stratford ontario at that conference where we actually met face to face0:01:24.480,0:01:30.320and then you and jimmy came through tokyo not that long after that and we went out and had0:01:30.320,0:01:36.960some wonderful sushi with ben crystal right and i had to leave early unfortunately i had another0:01:36.960,0:01:42.880again and i really wanted to stay for that but ben was in town and what a nice coincidence and then0:01:44.080,0:01:49.920i saw you again at that absolutely exquisite before shakespeare conference it's one of my0:01:49.920,0:01:55.280fondest memories of conferences but also just memories those few days0:01:55.280,0:02:01.520over in rowhampton with those people uh it's just the exactly the kind of people you would0:02:01.520,0:02:11.040like to spend three days with we had a blast and we learned so much and for our our viewers0:02:11.040,0:02:16.160what i want to do is start out you're doing some things you're doing a lot of work and0:02:16.960,0:02:21.680one of the things i want to feature right now is that you are doing a series of interviews sort0:02:21.680,0:02:27.760of like these in a similar type of format but a little bit more of a kaleidoscope of people0:02:27.760,0:02:33.440who are from various and sundry disciplines who are all very interested uh interesting before the0:02:33.440,0:02:42.320show i was going through a few of those and it's called a bit lit a bit b-i-t lit l-i-t0:02:42.960,0:02:47.680now tell us a little bit about that in the future is it something you're going to keep doing or0:02:48.400,0:02:53.680something that is for i don't know pandemic purposes because it sort of was provoked by0:02:53.680,0:03:01.360the pandemic right so uh yeah yeah um thank you so much for kind introduction tom um that's really0:03:01.360,0:03:07.200generous of you um yeah so a bit that is a lot like the film series that you've set up here0:03:07.200,0:03:14.160um i as soon as covert hit really i felt like i was surrounded by all the people that i love0:03:14.720,0:03:18.880worrying about the things that they love and whether they matter anymore people asking do0:03:18.880,0:03:23.440the humanities matter does theatre matter does performance matter does writing matter0:03:23.440,0:03:28.640at a time of medical emergency um and it seems to me that those things matter as much if not0:03:28.640,0:03:35.920more at a time of medical emergency so yeah a bit which was set up with um callan davis and emma0:03:35.920,0:03:43.040whipped a and james opry and matt martin not not just by myself um was just aiming to celebrate um0:03:43.680,0:03:49.360those things and to give us a space almost a space to meet for coffee or to me if you were0:03:49.360,0:03:54.000researching a library and bumped into a colleague just that sense of serendipity of who you you0:03:54.000,0:04:00.640might run into and it was very important to us that we we looked as widely as possible in terms0:04:00.640,0:04:05.920of the sorts of people and the kinds of content that we might cover um the three academics on the0:04:05.920,0:04:11.120project are all early modernists we all sit in the 16th and 17th century and we all look at english0:04:11.120,0:04:16.000literature so actually we're quite narrowly defined in terms of our research interests0:04:17.200,0:04:21.680but it was really important to us we made that as as broad as possible so we've spoken to0:04:21.680,0:04:28.400creative writers to performers of all kinds of different disciplines not just theatre0:04:29.360,0:04:34.960and we've spoken to academics across a wide range of topics not as wide as i'd like it0:04:34.960,0:04:37.760to be we always want to hear from other people who'd like to come and speak to us0:04:38.800,0:04:44.160but yeah it's been really fun really fun project well i see you're putting these out about once a0:04:44.160,0:04:52.480week and i i know from experience now that that's not easy uh that's a that's at a pretty good clip0:04:52.480,0:04:58.560and uh getting people set up and getting the timing and also you're going through i'm assuming0:04:58.560,0:05:04.800various like i am various time zones where you you may have to wake up early or go to bed late0:05:05.680,0:05:11.440right now it's your morning it's my evening and as we talk the sun will go down right and you0:05:11.440,0:05:16.480will you will have more and more sunshine which is good that's fine that that's the way it should be0:05:16.480,0:05:23.200but uh but i fully agree with you we're sort of focused on shakespeare here because i'm on a grant0:05:23.200,0:05:31.760but one of the driving things behind this was would be to expose people and not just0:05:32.400,0:05:39.040specialists but expose people to who we are there are misconceptions about the ivory tower about us0:05:39.040,0:05:48.320being maybe smug and uh detached from society and in your research if there is anyone more engaged0:05:48.320,0:05:54.400with the popular consciousness not only now but in the 16th century i can't think of anyone who0:05:54.400,0:06:00.560is uh in your work you have really brought out the uh drama before shakespeare and we're going0:06:00.560,0:06:06.800to go to before shakespeare in just a moment but those elements that led up to an extraordinarily0:06:07.520,0:06:13.920large and growing public reception that was set in place pretty much before shakespeare0:06:14.480,0:06:22.560got in there and that's what he inherited and very much benefited from uh the the people coming to0:06:22.560,0:06:28.880the theater but also the dramatic techniques that were developed during that period before0:06:28.880,0:06:35.920shakespeare and i would like you to kind of recap your your interest in this area before shakespeare0:06:35.920,0:06:41.680what drew you to it and uh what excites you about it what excites me about it too i might jump in at0:06:41.680,0:06:45.840one point but i think it's about the same thing so tell us a little bit about that if you may0:06:46.960,0:06:51.680uh well i did my phd on a writer called john lilly who is a contemporary shakespeare but0:06:51.680,0:06:56.800born 10 years earlier and the thing that i found most challenging with that phd was that0:06:56.800,0:07:04.160just those additional 10 years the kind of the the the decades jump in kind of historical context0:07:05.680,0:07:10.160made me feel orphaned from the kinds of scholarship that we have on the 1590s0:07:10.160,0:07:14.480and onwards and we do have some grasp on the 1580s when it comes to the theater we0:07:14.480,0:07:20.480think of dr faustus and spanish tragedy i think of marlow who you've written about so brilliantly tom0:07:20.480,0:07:26.480but unlike the 1590s it doesn't feel like we have a kind of a holistic wide-ranging knowledge0:07:27.040,0:07:32.800of that decade and then if we get to the decades before that it just felt like there was um0:07:32.800,0:07:38.560relatively little scholarship and happening um in in wonderfully detailed ways um david kaufman is a0:07:38.560,0:07:42.960great example of the kinds of brilliant archival work that was happening has been happening in0:07:42.960,0:07:47.920in the earlier period but no one really pulling putting things together and trying to take a wider0:07:47.920,0:07:53.040a wider view of the period um and in particular i don't really feel anyone looked at those0:07:53.040,0:07:58.320those theaters those playhouses as a group and said what on earth is going on there so that0:07:58.320,0:08:06.000was sort of my essential research question is why from at least the 1560s and even more0:08:06.000,0:08:13.600strongly in terms of our evidence base in the 1570s why do these public-facing profit-making0:08:13.600,0:08:20.720uh ventures start popping up in london we go from zero to over ten in a decade i can't see0:08:20.720,0:08:25.760that happening anywhere else possibly on the planet in those years um and certainly not in0:08:25.760,0:08:30.080europe even places like spain seem to be a few years behind and in somewhere like spain you0:08:30.080,0:08:36.480tend to have one or two theaters per city london suddenly has ten and um as i say i didn't really0:08:36.480,0:08:40.960feel like anyone was joining joining up those dots and i'm working on john lilly who works for0:08:41.680,0:08:45.440he wrote for a company of boy actors and then thinking about someone like marlo0:08:45.440,0:08:49.680who's writing mostly for a group of adult actors but again those dots are not being0:08:49.680,0:08:54.480joined either i don't have any sense really of how those theater companies how they operated0:08:54.480,0:08:57.920alongside each other what it would mean for a playwright to write for one or the other0:08:58.640,0:09:04.720so it was a kind of historical and cultural geographic attempt to to join those dots really0:09:05.760,0:09:11.360yeah well it's a great contribution to the field of research because you and i both know when0:09:11.360,0:09:17.360you get into shakespeare research that there's nothing there's no stone that seems uncovered0:09:17.360,0:09:23.120and you you want to make a point and it hadn't been made before like if you're doing mid-summer0:09:23.120,0:09:28.000night stream for instance there's all of this stuff to go through and everybody and there's0:09:28.000,0:09:34.400this one little point but you have to give cred to the people all the way down and it's exhausting0:09:34.400,0:09:38.560and so and and then people will you know maybe disagree with you0:09:38.560,0:09:43.600now i do want to clarify for some of my students and so forth the 1590s is when we0:09:43.600,0:09:51.680we're not quite sure precisely when shakespeare arrived on the scene but certainly by mid-1590s0:09:51.680,0:09:58.160and after those play years there is a a big bump and probably some things before the plague0:09:58.160,0:10:04.320but the 1590s so you're talking about lily who developed and i think i'm saying this right0:10:07.120,0:10:14.080primed the pump for a popular marketplace for shake for public or semi-public0:10:14.080,0:10:22.640uh theater and also bringing to the uh bringing together this relationship between court and city0:10:22.640,0:10:28.880where you could kind of uh wrote if not rotate plays at that time you could you the finding0:10:28.880,0:10:36.400that you can entertain groups in the city as well as at court and that you can publish these plays0:10:36.400,0:10:43.040right at the point that you've made several times and these plays sold they were popular0:10:43.680,0:10:49.440and that's what opened the market for publication of shakespearean plays which may not have been0:10:49.440,0:10:55.760published and we wouldn't have them uh so that uh that's just an amazing contribution well the0:10:56.400,0:11:05.280the group of people you had at that con conference uh hogarzeim and uh of course uh heather knight uh0:11:05.280,0:11:13.120they they kind of uh stole part of the show there were some still show stealing moments there was a0:11:13.120,0:11:18.720a production of gallatia which is a fairly obscure even the people in the business0:11:18.720,0:11:24.880uh is not that studied that you explored you brought in a group of transgendered0:11:24.880,0:11:32.800acting troop and that play is gender-bending as it is right so it's re-gender-bended and i'm i got0:11:32.800,0:11:39.840lost a little bit on on how many flips yeah you know it gets kind of mathematically complicated0:11:39.840,0:11:45.760and sort of uh adorable that way right it was an excellent production and they led us from a room0:11:45.760,0:11:51.600out into the woods there at rohampton we had to follow along with the actors and uh that was a0:11:51.600,0:11:58.800wonderful great moment how is that troop doing how are they faring uh you know almost post-pandemic0:11:58.800,0:12:04.640i i can't imagine things have gone well yeah we we um we've been in a kind of a long period of um0:12:05.200,0:12:10.160uh what's called research and development so kind of um pre pre-rehearsal really phase of0:12:10.160,0:12:13.760the project for five years because we want to firstly want to get the production right and0:12:13.760,0:12:19.920secondly we need to raise a good deal of money so we're not quite a troop yet um the actors you saw0:12:19.920,0:12:25.280we have this kind of coming in and out of the research and development process um as we go0:12:25.280,0:12:31.120um we hope to have that production on its feet um next year we're hoping to make a film of it0:12:31.120,0:12:36.800which will make us covered proof uh we hope and um yeah it's gonna be really exciting i hope to0:12:37.680,0:12:42.160to stage this play for my money it's shakespeare's favorite play he never recovers from it he's0:12:42.160,0:12:46.800thinking about the gender bending you're describing in two gentlemen of verona0:12:46.800,0:12:50.960and he's thinking about it in the middle of his career like with as you like it or 12th night0:12:50.960,0:12:56.480and even a late play like the tempest the second scene of that play where her father explains0:12:56.480,0:13:01.520to his daughter who she is and why she's where she is comes straight out of the first scene of0:13:02.240,0:13:06.320of galatea so it's a play that shakespeare never really recovers from i sometimes think0:13:06.320,0:13:12.240of it almost as a kind of creative trauma for him he's always trying to to rewrite and renegotiate0:13:12.240,0:13:17.120some of the things that that galatea does um and as far as we know it has no stage history0:13:17.120,0:13:22.240from the 17th century up to the present day really um and we're hoping to permanently0:13:22.800,0:13:29.520reintroduce it to the modern repertory so we're hoping it will be a very visible production which0:13:29.520,0:13:35.840might change conversations around shakespeare genre gender and also change conversations around0:13:35.840,0:13:40.560around diversity and inclusion which certainly in the anglo-american tradition0:13:40.560,0:13:48.480at the moment tends towards including a single representative of diversity in an otherwise very0:13:48.480,0:13:54.000normative and normal looking group of people and our production is trying instead to center0:13:54.000,0:13:58.560all the kinds of people who would normally be marginalized by those kinds of productions and0:13:58.560,0:14:04.160ask what happens when we do that and that's really important to me i think um so so much0:14:04.800,0:14:10.640contemporary classical theater makes us think of shakespeare as expensive fairly conservative0:14:10.640,0:14:16.800and i mean expensive at the level of budget and at the level of um tickets and of course early modern0:14:16.800,0:14:21.680theater those buildings were permanently in danger of falling down permanently in danger of being0:14:21.680,0:14:28.800shut down actors are semi-illegal the stories that they're telling are very close to breaching laws0:14:28.800,0:14:34.960about what you can say in public about religion or or politics so um it's really important to0:14:34.960,0:14:41.760me that um we start to rethink how contemporary performance makes us imagine shakespeare because0:14:41.760,0:14:46.720i think unfortunately it sometimes gets in the way as much as it helps us to think about place0:14:46.720,0:14:53.840from that period oh yes oh yes it tends to eclipse uh things before and after and0:14:53.840,0:15:01.600also uh it you know in the era i guess from the late 19th century of the shakespeare and academe0:15:01.600,0:15:07.920and the departmentalization the breaking up of specialties and so forth uh in into0:15:07.920,0:15:13.840academic disciplines uh i think no i don't know i don't want to make a big deal out of this but0:15:13.840,0:15:18.320if you want to kind of survive you better keep one foot in the shakespearean0:15:18.320,0:15:23.600area right and you can venture out so and there might be someone who sees this0:15:24.640,0:15:30.080conversation and goes well i don't know how much shakespeare was in there you go well quite a lot0:15:30.080,0:15:36.160because we're talking about sort of uh primal reasons we're going to the to the source of what0:15:36.160,0:15:42.160created this enormous thing and i told another guest that you know you can't study rock the0:15:42.160,0:15:47.440history of rock and roll and just focus on the stones and the beetles you know you have to throw0:15:47.440,0:15:53.280every

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