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Outerspeares: Where everyone can hear you Shakespeare.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

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  • University of Guelph hosted Outspeares conference on November 1st

    University of Guelph hosted Outspeares conference on November 1st

Try as you might to justify your disdain or outright avoidance of Shakespeare: that the Bard and his life’s work have impacted yours and the lives of millions for hundreds of years, is an irrefutable aspect of Western culture. The Outerspeares conference held at the University of Guelph on November 1st – which just happened to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the first production of The Tempest – addressed exactly why and how Shakespearean canon maintains a relevant and active role in our socially- and technologically-dynamic world.

The day’s speakers (including the University’s own Andrew Bretz, Mark Fortier, Mark Kaethler, and Maurico Martinez) brought with them a range of insights into the ways that Shakespeare’s works interact with the array of artistic media through which they are adapted. The rise of social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube, post-9/11 culture and Middle-Eastern adaptations are all discussed in their relation to our 21st century understanding of Shakespearean texts and their representations.

The day was underscored by keynote speakers Tom Magill – director of the new film “Mickey B,” a retelling of Macbeth using Northern Irish prisoners – and the duo of Connor McCreery and Anthony Del Col, authors and co-creators of the increasingly popular graphic novel series, Kill Shakespeare.

Set for its first theatre-produced adaptation in November, and slated for a possible studio-film franchise in the future, Kill Shakespeare brings our favourite Shakespeare characters together in an imaginary tale of destiny and doom that rides on the fate of the Bard and his magical quill. The tale functions loosely around the question “What if?” and presents a beautifully-drawn world, rich in reference and allusion. What if Lady MacBeth came to terms with her treachery? What if Othello and Iago had a chance to make amends? What if Juliet lived?

If not a wonderfully fun supplement for fans of Shakespeare who can appreciate the references to his plays and their setting, the graphic novel series introduces at least a semblance of the richness of Shakespeare’s language, poetry, and artistry to an audience who wouldn’t pay him a second glance otherwise.

“Outerspeares: Intercultural and Intermedia Adaptations of Shakespeare” was collaboratively coordinated by the School of English and Theatre Studies, the SETS Visiting Speaker’s Committee, the Guelph Central Student Association, the School of Languages and Literatures, the College of Arts, and the Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project (CASP). Dr. Daniel Fischlin, founder and director of CASP, and University Research Chair in SETS, directed the conference.

Mark Curran is a volunteer at thecannon.ca and in his final year at the University of Guelph.

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