CFP: “Australia and Shakespeare”

Australia and Shakespeare

In 2012, the London Olympics year, Shakespeare’s Globe curated a festival of Shakespeare productions entitled Globe to Globe. Productions came to the Globe from all over the world – a total 37 plays in 37 different languages. Early in the planning process I was contacted and asked if I knew of any productions in an Australian Aboriginal language; I did not. However, the question unsettled me. While there is a provocation in performing Shakespeare in a language other than English, the Globe’s contribution to the Cultural Olympiad risked constructing what Helen Gilbert and Jacqueline Lo identify as ‘thin’ cultural cosmopolitanism, which boasts a ‘patina of international sophistication’ and often purveys ‘an array of highly ethnicised individuals and groups’ (Performance and Cosmopolitics 8-9). More particularly, the Globe’s cosmopolitan project effectively made it extremely unlikely that Australia could make a major contribution to the festival; in the end, Perth-based Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company accepted the Globe’s invitation to present sonnets in the Noongar language as part of multi-lingual reading of all 154 sonnets. Given that, as far as I know, the only Australian Shakespeare theatre production to tour to the UK, Shakespeare’s home territory, is the Bell Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors in 2006, the Globe’s approach was perpetuating the habitual marginalisation of Australian Shakespeare performance from the perspective of UK theatre. As a consequence of this, I am proposing an issue of Australian Studies which seeks to showcase as well as interrogate Shakespeare and Australia in performance, in film, and in culture. It will include a wide-ranging interview with Geoffrey Rush on his experiences of Shakespeare as a performer, director and a member of the audience. It will seek to map out and to analyse the variety, the contradictions and the excitement of Australia’s conflicted interactions with Shakespeare.


Essays might explore

  • Histories of Shakespeare in Australia – in production, in education, in rehearsal, in marketing, as cultural capital,
  • Practitioners’ work with Shakespeare – directors, designers, performers, actor trainers etc
  • A particular company/ venue/ approach (Stand Up For Shakespeare; the UWA Fortune theatre; The Australian Shakespeare Company; the Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble)
  • A particularly influential/ provocative/ popular production
  • Australian adaptations/ remixes/ spin offs (for example, Popular Mechanicals)/ ballets (for example, Helpmann’s Hamlet)
  • Touring Shakespeare – Australian and overseas companies
  • Shakespeare and applied or community contexts: prisons, detention centres, schools
  • Shakespeare and indigeneity
  • Shakespeare and translation
  • Original Practices in Australia
  • Shakespeare and Australia film – from the Romeo and Juliet in The Sentimental Bloke to Geoffrey Wright’s Macbeth
  • Shakespeare’s contemporaries in Australia
  • Shakespearian practitioners working on Shakespeare across the world (for example, Elijah Moshinksy, Judith Anderson, Keith Michell)

Australian Studies is a refereed online journal hosted by the NLA. Submission guidelines appear at

The deadline for submission of essays is 31 March 2013
Elizabeth Schafer