Shakespeare as you like it (at Centre)
April 1, 2010 By Leigh Ivey
visit Centre's library, where a bust of the bard is on display.
The bust was a gift from Centre alumni in honor of Dr. Paul
Cantrell, professor of English from 1949-1989.
On April 8, Shakespeare scholar Dr. Russ McDonald will deliver
the annual Bastian lecture, speaking about “Shakespeare and
the Suspicion of Style.”
McDonald’s visit was timed to coincide with the Drama Centre’s
production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Patrick
Kagan-Moore. Kagan-Moore and McDonald will discuss the play
in a public conversation on April 8.
This month, Shakespeare fever hits Centre College.
From the Drama Centre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to a lecture by the president of the Shakespeare Association of America to a public conversation about the bard’s plays, the Centre community will have a wealth of opportunities to honor the famous poet and playwright during the month of his birth.
On Thursday, April 8, Shakespeare scholar Dr. Russ McDonald will deliver the annual Bastian lecture, which is hosted by Centre’s English program and named for emeritus faculty member Carol Bastian. McDonald’s topic will be “Shakespeare and the Suspicion of Style.” The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. in Vahlkamp Theater.
McDonald, who serves not only as president of the Shakespeare Association of America but professor of English at Goldsmiths College of the University of London, is one of today’s leading Shakespeare scholars.
“If you were to ask Shakespeare specialists to name the top five Shakespeare scholars today, Russ would be on anyone’s list,” says Centre professor of English Mark Rasmussen. “And while he’s a brilliant scholar and critic, he’s also a very gifted teacher, so his lecture is sure to be a lively experience for the audience.”
What distinguishes McDonald from many Shakespeare scholars, Rasmussen says, is the attention he pays to the poet’s language.
“In recent years, there’s been a movement away from studying Shakespeare’s words to focusing on the cultural, historical and dramatic contexts of his plays,” he says. “What Russ is doing is renewing the linguistic focus; he is fascinated by how Shakespeare uses words, as well as by his evolving attitudes toward language.”
“Russ’s most recent book, Shakespeare’s Late Style, considered how Shakespeare’s thinking about language changed during the final stage of his career. It was a brilliant book, clearly the distillation of a lifetime of thought. He’s now turned his attention to the earlier stages of Shakespeare’s development, and his talk to us will be focused on that.”
In the Bastian lecture, McDonald will consider a watershed moment in Shakespeare’s career during the 1590s, when the poet wrote Love’s Labour’s Lost, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He will highlight some ways that Shakespeare’s stylistic ideals shift during this period, drawing analogies to Elizabethan music and garden design, and devoting special attention to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
McDonald’s lecture on April 8 will take place at 7:00 p.m. in the Vahlkamp Theater in the basement of the library, and the English program warmly encourages all members of the Centre and local communities to attend.
McDonald’s visit was timed to coincide with the Drama Centre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will take place in Weisiger Theatre from April 13-15 and 17.
Before the show hits the stage, McDonald and Centre professor of dramatic arts Patrick Kagan-Moore will hold a public conversation about the play itself and about Patrick’s production. The event, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Conversation with Russ McDonald and Patrick Kagan-Moore,” will take place in Newlin Hall on April 8 at 11:20 a.m.
“The conversation is particularly directed toward Centre’s first-year Humanities students, all of whom are studying the play,” Rasmussen says. “But it’s open to anyone who’s interested. Personally, I can’t imagine a better way to warm up for the excitement of the play’s run the following week.”