Summer of Shakespeare in Sydney

We've come to the end of the year of #Shakespeare400 and Sydney has lots on offer for those who would like to incorporate an experience of the Bard into their summer holiday plans. Below are my picks for the silly season.

1. Sport For Jove's Shakespeare in the Park

Sport For Jove's summer series is a must for any Shakespeare lover who would like to experience their favourite plays in an outdoor setting on the beautiful grounds of Bella Vista Farm. This summer Sport For Jove are playing Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. For more information you can visit their website.

Sport For Jove's Shakespeare in the Park festival is held at the historic Bella Vista Farm until the 10th of January, 2017.  Image:

Sport For Jove's Shakespeare in the Park festival is held at the historic Bella Vista Farm until the 10th of January, 2017. Image:

2. Measure for Measure with Cheek by Jowl at Sydney Festival

I saw this production during its UK tour in 2015 and it is a great pick for anyone but especially if you would like to see a Shakespeare production in another language. Cheek by Jowl have teamed up with Moscow's Pushkin Theatre to present a wonderful and daring production of this late Shakespearean play. Definitely worth seeing. Ticket purchases are via the Sydney Festival Website.

Cheek By Jowl bring their unique, physical theatre style to Measure for Measure in January 2017.  Image:

Cheek By Jowl bring their unique, physical theatre style to Measure for Measure in January 2017. Image:

3. Richard III with Bell Shakespeare at Sydney Opera House

Bell Shakespeare are opening the year with an experimental production of my favourite Shakespearean history play, Richard III. With Kate Mulvany playing the role of Richard, I can't wait to see how a female chooses to play this character. Head to Bell Shakespeare's Website for more.

Richard III with Bell Shakespeare opens on February 25.  Image:

Richard III with Bell Shakespeare opens on February 25. Image:

Shakespeare and the Idea of Authenticity

This year has been incredibly eventful in the realm of Shakespeare studies and performance. As the quaternary year of #Shakespeare400, we have been celebrating the legacy of Shakespeare as a playwright and re-evaluating his place in 21st theatre.

Amongst this period of reflection and examination, we had the appointment of Emma Rice to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, where she began experimenting with amplified sound and dynamic lighting in their summer season of 2016 in the outdoor replica of Shakespeare’s own amphitheatre. Rice’s movement toward high production value shows in the Globe-style space received a mixed response, with some mourning the journey away from Sam Wanamaker and Mark Rylance’s ‘Original Practices’ toward something closer to our contemporary theatre style. As the summer season came to an end, the Board of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre announced that Emma Rice would be moving on from her new appointment as Artistic Director to another arts organisation in 2017. The board cited reasons of wanting to ‘stay true’ to Wanamaker’s ideal of an ‘authentic’ Globe experience, and foreseeable disparity between Rice and this model of performance.[1]

Rice’s dismissal received a similar level of mixed reaction to her summer productions. Some of the early pioneers of the Globe’s early style appeared to let out a sigh of relief on the Twitterverse, while others mourned the lost potential in Rice’s leadership of the Globe into a new era.[2]

Emma Rice will not be continuing at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on London's Bankside in 2017.  Image: The Guardian UK

Emma Rice will not be continuing at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on London's Bankside in 2017. Image: The Guardian UK

This move by the Globe board opens several questions: where does our value in Shakespeare’s theatre lie for audiences in the 21st century? Does a space like Shakespeare’s Globe in London deserve a special platform for staging a more ‘authentic’ Shakespearean style? Or is the pursuit of authenticity in performance a futile or perhaps an irrelevant/disengaging practice for modern-day audiences?

My thought about the latter two questions is that both have a ‘yes’ element and it is the navigation between these two truths that results in captivating performances for audiences in a replica Globe space.

On the one hand, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on London’s bankside serves as a major tourist attraction and educational centre, focused on connecting audiences with early modern drama in a space that replicates the original performance conditions. As Penelope Woods writes in her case studies of Globe audiences, people respond to their first experience of a performance in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre with comments like, ‘quote’ and ‘quote’. This demonstrates that whatever misgivings academics may have about finding a truly ‘authentic’ experience of Shakespearean performance, audiences often see it this way.

So the question remains, where does our value in Shakespearean performance lie in the 21st century, or more importantly, what do our audiences value? Do we require the Globe in London to remain as a bastion of historical representation or do we need to strike a balance between this and a more modern performance style?

Perhaps only time can tell the answer.

Did you see a production at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in the summer season of 2016? If so I'd love to hear from you. Send me an email to


[1] To read the full BBC Article on Emma Rice’s dismissal, go to

[2] For an example of the kinds of conversations that followed on Twitter, see

Shakespeare 400

2016 is an exciting year in Shakespeare studies and performance, as we commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.

Now is the perfect time to think of taking yourself or your students to one of the many events that are taking place in Sydney and other parts of Australia as part of the global Shakespeare 400 festival. Below is our pick of what is scheduled:

CULTURE CLUB at Sydney Opera House - March 16

In March the culture club gathers to ask the question: if Shakespeare were alive today, what would he write about, and for whom?

Join Bell Shakespeare's new Artistic Director, Peter Evans, as well as Sport For Jove's Damien Ryan and actor Michelle Doake as they discuss a series of 'what if's in the world of the Bard:
- What would Shakespeare make of the 21st century?
- What can modern-day audiences get out of his plays?
- If Shakespeare were alive today, what would he be writing, and who would be his desired audience?

For more information visit the culture club website:


During Term 2, Sport for Jove are hosting a competition across all schools in NSW, with opportunity to submit works in the categories of duologues, group scenes, dance or movement pieces, music, costumes and set designs to represent your school. Relevant to a wide range of subject areas from English and Drama through to Music and Visual Arts, there is sure to be something for all of your students to take part in.

You can find out more on Sport for Jove's website:


Take your Preliminary students or recommend them to the cinema for a great experience of Shakespeare's fabulous comedy, As You Like It, being played by London's National Theatre for the first time in 30 years with Rosalie Craig as Rosalind. The show is screening during March in a range of locations including Circular Quay, Newtown, Parramatta and Cremorne.

Book tickets here:


As part of the British Shakespeare 400 festival Guardian UK has commissioned a series of short videos of renowned British actors performing famous soliloquies and speeches from Shakespeare's plays. This is a fantastic resource to introduce to your students and includes speeches from HSC set texts, such as Hamlet's soliloquy number 4, 'to be or not to be'

You can check it out here:


Shakespeare's Globe in London has recently made some of their recent productions available on The Globe On Demand player, including The Tempest, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream. This is a fantastic resource for you to watch or show to your students to expose them to a style of performance designed to work in the replica Globe theatre space.

Have a look for yourself (note: subscription required):


There are many great shows happening in Sydney during 2016, and here is our pick of the highlights:

Hamlet directed by Damien Ryan, playing as part of Sport For Jove's Education Season in May
   Parramatta Riverside Theatre:
   The Seymour Centre:

Twelfth Night directed by Eamon Flack, playing at Belvoir from 23 July - 4 September

Othello directed by Peter Evans, playing as part of Bell Shakespeare's 2016 Season in October. See Bell Shakespeare's website for regional touring dates:

Much Dell'Arte About Nothing is a hilarious mash-up of Shakespearean commedy in the style of Commedia Dell'Arte playing at Monkey Baa Theatre in Darling Harbour, as well as Parramatta Riverside Theatre and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. Performed by Matriark Theatre, this is sure to be a blast and will be informative of the style of comedy that influenced Shakespeare's work. See Monkey Baa's Website for more information:


What a great year it is shaping up to be! If you have any other ideas of the best Shakespearean performances going on this year in Sydney, feel free to add to the comments.