Shakespeare and Identity – our shared experience

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The Creative Centre, Room CC101, York St John University

2:00pm – 5:30pm Saturday April 27

Convened by Dr. Saffron Vickers-Walkling and Esme Bainbridge

York St John University, the European Shakespeare Research Association and the York International Shakespeare Festival invite you to an afternoon of discussion and shared experiences on Shakespeare and Identity.

We will have a keynote presentation on The Indian Journeys of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by leading academic and podcaster Dr Varsha Panjwani. Panel discussions will reflect on the identities explored across the festival, including Debra Ann Byrd’s one woman show Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey and Working Title: a collaboration between YISF and the Ukrainian community of York.

With members of Footsbarn – who play their production of Twelfth Night in the evening and on Sunday 28th, we will look at questions of Shakespeare and Gender identity.

We will bring together practitioners, educators, students, local and global festival contributors to participate in panel discussions and Q&As, covering a wide range of ways that Shakespeare can be central to the way we develop an understanding of ourselves. We interrogate the ways in which Shakespeare can sometimes exclude, but also how Shakespeare can be appropriated and reconfigured to speak to us all as diverse individuals and as societies.

Outline programme

Shakespeare and Identity Symposium 2024

  1. 2-3.30 keynote lecture and discussion by Dr Varsha Panjwani on The Indian Journeys of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    1. Lecturer: NYU (London), Podcaster: Women & Shakespeare [] –In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a contention over an Indian child forms the structural engine of the play. My talk tracks multiple journeys between India and Britain from Shakespeare’s time to mine. It asserts that the traffic of the spice trade, boys, and queer mythological tales from India shaped both Shakespeare’s writing of the play and English identity. It explains how the subsequent journeys – personal, historical, literary, and theatrical – between India and England have shaped my understanding of the play. Through navigating these cross-current routes, I am arguing that looking at Shakespeare’s plays through a reader’s marginal identity and positionality can help us understand Shakespeare and ourselves afresh.  
  • 3.30-3.45 short break
  • 3.45-4.15 Dr Varsha Panjwani, Limor Augustin, Dr Saffron Vickers-Walkling lead a discussion with the audience on their Shakespeare identity
  • 4.15-5 Panel on Shakespeare and Ukraine

with contributions from Footsbarn Theatre Company to fit around their rehearsals!

This event is free, but we ask you to reserve a space so that we know how many are attending, and to consider making a donation to the work of the festival.

We want to make it possible for as many members of the community to come to festival performances, so please consider buying a Pass it On Ticket which we can offer to community members who may not otherwise be able to attend.

Book for this event