Cymbeline in the Anthropocene

Theatre Department, La Trobe University

Melbourne, Australia

Artistic Director: Rob Conkie

Theatre Department, La Trobe University

Wildlife Sanctuary, La Trobe University

Can you do an eco-focused production of Shakespeare in Australia now and not comment on the bushfires?

Maybe, maybe not… In 2012, Lee Lewis directed a production of Twelfth Night for the Bell Shakespeare Company that was set in a shelter for bushfire victims. The set was a 20 foot high pyramid of clothes that had been donated. In the corner was an old, crackling TV set offering snippets of news, and none of it good.

An old man picks up a dusty and thick volume and starts reading it to others to pass the night. “What country, friends, is this?” He begins. They pass it around (from memory), and then the play takes over. It was a mixture of the most riotous hi-jinx and deeply affecting resonances between the world of the play and the world of the players…

Our Cymbeline  might engage with fire. And with water scarcity. And with governmental incompetence and self-interest. It will almost certainly be outside. It will probably engage with Lesley Head’s Hope and Grief in the Anthropocene… more grief than hope, right now…

Theatre Department, La Trobe University

Rob Conkie is Associate Professor in Theatre at La Trobe University. His teaching and research integrates practical and theoretical approaches to Shakespeare in performance. He is the author of Writing Performative Shakespeares: New Forms for Performance Criticism (Cambridge University Press, 2016), The Globe Theatre Project: Shakespeare and Authenticity (Edwin Mellen, 2006), the co-author of Shakespeare and Creative Criticism (Berghahn, 2019), and of numerous journal articles and book chapters. He has twice (2013, 2016) been appointed Associate Investigator of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, for which he has produced theatre productions and workshops and related symposia. He has directed about a third of the Shakespeare canon for the stage, most recently an outdoors, promenade, middle-of-winter, eco-King Lear.

 

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