ACU Students had a feast of Shakespeare in Australia yesterday! As is well known one of the first plays to be produced in Australia, back in 1800, was Shakespeare’s Henry IV, with a convict cast. What an amazing historic event that was, is, and remains. To have Shakespeare’s subversive political stance, his hatred of officialdom, trumpeted to the skies by a convict Falstaff, was, is and remains a powerful creative, political act. Well done whoever it was! And thank you Mr Shakespeare.
So our students yesterday went first to the NSW Art Gallery, to be immersed in the Art of the Renaissance in and around Shakespeare’s time. They absorbed the religious conflicts of the age crystallised in the amazing Italian Plate commemorating the 9/11 of the 1500s:
And they digested the sensuality of the times, along with the obsession with the Ancient World in paintings such as this representing the Rape of the Vestal virgin by Mars and the consequent birth:
We then moved on to the Shakespeare Room where we so brilliantly hosted by Helen and Emma. Thank you Helen for your detailed and graciously presented commentary on every detail in the Shakespeare Room and then, especially your unveiling of the First Folio 1623 edition of the text which Ben Jonson referred to as the one thing that has kept Shakespeare’s name alive and alight!
Shine forth, thou Star of Poets, and with rage
Or influence, chide or cheer the drooping stage,
Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourned like night,
And despairs day, but for thy volume’s light.
Here is the unveiling of the volume:
From here we very carefully crossed the highway to the centre of what used to be Shakespeare Place, where the wonderful statue of Shakespeare with a number of his key characters stands defiantly against modern industrialisation. Championing Shakespeare’s quest for freedom and his sense of the sacredness of all life we embraced his statue (Jamie adopting the role of the bard in image 1:
And we listened to a reading of the momentous lines from the end of The Tempest, which are inscribed on the base of this statue:
And on this very evening we all headed to Sydney Opera House Drama Theatre where we watched a wonderful performance of Antony and Cleopatra.
A wonderful day of Shakespearean submersion!
Blog Topics for this coming week:
*Take any of the paintings or any one of the questions on the art gallery sheet and build this into a blog that shows your understanding of the how the visual arts can inform your understanding of literature.
*Take any one of the paintings seen and describe it as vividly as you can in a creative piece of poetry or prose. This is technically called ekphrastic writing (Look up the meaning of this!)
* Take any aspect of the visit to the State Library (Shakespeare Room etc) and present your sense of how this experience has amplified your experience of the significance of Shakespeare
*Write an impromptu review of the play seen on Friday night. Make any comments you wish on how you understood the director’s decisions to caste Antony and Cleopatra in the way he did, and maybe why Pompey was caste as a woman.