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Cymbeline in 2021: Blog Highlights

By Cymbeline Anthropocene on Dec 09, 2021 at 10:47 PM in Cymbeline and the World

As 2021 draws to a close, it is shocking to reflect on how tumultuous this year has been--theatrically, ecologically, and globally. Theatres all over the world began to reopen, cautiously and with new safety precautions, in the wake of second, third, fourth, and now fifth waves of the Covid-19 pandemic. The rollout of several vaccines against Covid-19 and the emergence of new variants only further revealed the gulf of privilege and safety that exists between rich countries and exploited countries. Meanwhile, the planet erupted with climate disasters in the Western United States, China, Germany, and recently on both coasts of Canada, even as political leaders minimized these harms during COP 26

Producing ecotheatre in this context has never felt so urgent, nor has it ever been so difficult, for the same reasons. The Cymbeline in the Anthropocene wishes to thank and to celebrate the accomplishments of our collaborators, whose ingenuity and dedication brought four new productions of Cymbeline into the world this year.

Join us today as we take a month-by-month journey back through our blogs as we documented this chaotic and remarkable year. 

January 2021

Cymbeline in the Anthropocene entered 2021 with both apprehension and anticipation. After the pandemic-induced lockdowns of 2020, we were uncertain how--or even if--a theatre project could proceed, but excited to foster the growth of ideas already planted by our collaborators--including a new company.

February 2021

As the winter went on, this blog had the opportunity to host a variety of work by the students of our teaching colleagues, many of whom were teaching remotely for the first time. The brilliant interpretations of Cymbeline produced by these young Shakespeareans stoked our imaginations and led us to consider the play in entirely new ways: for example, Amber Loper's all-avian adaptation of Cymbeline, titled A Caged Bird's Song

March 2021

In March, we finished our weekly episode recaps of Merced Shakespearefest's Ricardo II: A Bilingual Adaptation of Shakespeare's Richard II. This innovative serial adaptation, produced entirely during Covid-19 lockdowns and shared for free on Youtube, allowed this company to explore safer ways to bring performance to audiences, in a time when large gatherings were still incredibly risky, pre-vaccine. The series stands as a testament to how adaptable theatre artists can be when faced with the real-life challenges of the Anthropocene. 

April 2021

April was our fullest (not cruelest!) month, and not only because it brought the double celebrations of Earth Day and Shakespeare's birthday.

First, the virtual gathering of the Shakespeare Association of America brought our project leader Randall Martin together with Nicolette Bethel (University of the Bahamas), Evelyn O’Malley (University of Exeter), Katie Brokaw (University of California Merced) for a panel on performing ecological Shakespeares, chaired by Robert N. Watson (University of California Los Angeles). 

Cymbeline in 2021: Blog Highlights

From April 21st to 24th, Rob Conkie's Melbourne company performed the first of our collaborating productions at La Trobe University's MOAT festival. Thanks to Australia's success in controlling the spread of the pandemic, this was one of the first live theatre events to take place since the global crisis began, and heralded a renewed optimism that live performance could be done safely in this changing world. 

The same weekend also brought international attention to Cymbeline in the Anthropocene as we and many of our collaborating theatres participated in Globe 4 Globe: Shakespeare and Climate Emergency. The first-ever international symposium to address this increasingly pressing topic, Globe 4 Globe featured over 30 theatre-makers, scholars, and sustainability experts presenting on eco-Shakespeare in performance, with a particular emphasis on its relationships with the deepening climate crisis. Co-organized by Katie Brokaw, Paul Prescott, and the Research Department at Shakespeare’s Globe, this landmark virtual event was a resounding success!


May 2021

The arrival of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and fall in the Southern also brought several sneak peeks at the production of Shakespeare in Yosemite's Imogen in the Wild, now slated to be a feature-length film instead of a live performance. Filmed on-location in Yosemite National Park in Northern California, these previews included scene excerpts introducing us to the cast, as well as original music to be included in the film. 

June 2021

Cymbeline in 2021: Blog Highlights

The second company to perform in 2021 was The Willow Globe. Playing in an outdoor replicaof the original Globe theatre constructed from live Willow branches in the Welsh countryside, this production ran between June 25th-27th to nearly sold-out crowds! 

July 2021

Cymbeline in 2021: Blog Highlights

The mid-summer was all about Montana Shakespeare in the Parks' travelling production of Cymbeline, our third collaborating company, who performed dozens of times in a variety of outdoor venues across the mountain state. Truly an endurance feat of artistry!

August 2021

Cymbeline in 2021: Blog Highlights

As the summer mellowed, Shakespeare in Yosemite's team kept our blog supplied with interviews conducted by Research Assistant Monica Perales with the cast and crew of Imogen in the Wild. Click here to read Monica's conversation with Cymbeline himself, as played by Dennis Lee Brown. 

September 2021

Cymbeline in 2021: Blog Highlights

When travel restrictions eased across Turtle Island, our project leader Randall Martin had the opportunity to attend the final two performances of Cymbeline by Montana Shakespeare in the Parks. In his part-review, part-narrative account of his travels, Randall analyzed the production's brightly coloured adaptation as well as the spectre of wildfire smoke that pursued the travelling company. 

Randall's interviews with MSIP's main cast provided this blog with several weeks of reflection on a production that was deeply ecologically enmeshed with the land it moved across. Click here to read Randall's interview with MSIP's Imogen, played by Mikey Grey. 

October 2021

With fall came the first news from our newest collaborating company: Setebos. As director Monica Maffia began workshopping her production during an artist residency at the Centro Cultural San Martin in Buenos Aires, her earliest rehearsal notes revealed the rich cross-historical resonances between Cymbeline's ancient Britain and the Argentinian region of Patagonia. 

November 2021

On November 20th, Imogen in the Wild premiered on Youtube and became the fourth available performance from Cymbeline in the Anthropocene's collaborators. Shakespeare in Yosemite's urgent and accessible adaptation layers the industrial and conservation histories of Northern California into Shakespeare's text. The film's original protest songs and eco-anthems both enrich and update the poetry of the original play's ecological leanings.

December 2021

Finally, we arrive at the present moment, at the end of a year of overwhelming upheavals, triumphs, and lessons to learn. We hope that you have enjoyed this look back through a year of blog posts as much as we have enjoyed discovering the resilience of theatre communities across the globe. Join us next week for Randall Martin's annual year-in-review reflection, and again in the new year for whatever 2022 may bring.