Friends, Romans, countrymen … lend me your ears . . . I have good news to tell . . . A conference on Shakespeare has been hailed as a hit.
More than 160 delegates from 30 countries descended on the University of Stirling earlier this month (July) to take part in the Sixth Biennial British Shakespeare Association Conference. The four day event saw the presentation of academic papers, panel discussions, workshops, screenings and performances.
It was the first time the conference had been held in Scotland.
Dr Angus Vine from Stirling’s School of Arts and Humanities said: “Particular highlights of the conference were the four plenary sessions, which included wonderful lectures by the leading Shakespearean scholars Professor Margreta de Grazia (University of Pennsylvania), Dr Colin Burrow (University of Oxford) and Dr Andrew Murphy (University of St Andrews) and a spirited and vigorous ‘In Conversation’ session between Dr Michael Bogdanov, co-founder of the English Shakespeare Company, and Professor John Drakakis (University of Stirling).
“Delegates also enjoyed screenings of Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing and Asta Nielsen’s Hamlet at the macrobert theatre, and a lively production of The Comedy of Errors by the Glaswegian theatre company Bard in the Botanics, also at the macrobert.
“While the play was originally intended as an outdoor production, the weather conspired against this and it was moved inside. Nonetheless, it was enjoyed by all.”
As well as the academic sessions, delegates also had the opportunity to participate in an excursion to Innerpeffray Library near Crieff; take a tour of the University Art Collection; and participate in a whisky tasting organized by the Famous Grouse Distillery.
Other social events included two receptions and a conference banquet at the Stirling Management Centre. At the first reception delegates were entertained by the Provost of Stirling and Dr Elspeth King of the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum.
Said Dr Vine: “The Provost appeared in his ceremonial robes and was accompanied by two halberd-bearing officials, and he welcomed delegates to Stirling in Gaelic, English and Scots, while Dr King gave a witty and entertaining talk on Stirling and Shakespeare.
“At the second reception a piper played on the hillside outside the Management Centre below the Wallace Monument. All delegates felt that these social events enhanced the conference and provided the kind of space and environment for the conversations and exchanges that are so vital to the success of this kind of event.”
Praise for the conference was widespread. Delegates on Twitter described it as “the wonderful British Shakespeare Association conference 2014”, “friendly, stimulating and challenging”, and “splendid conference with some amazing people”.
The university campus – as host venue - was also widely praised, say organisers.