Academic set to claim there is more to Elizabethan literature than Shakespeare at festival

Dr Andy Kesson from the Department of English and Creative Writing is to open the Chichester Festival’s Shakespeare 400: New Perspectives event to discuss his new £249,000 funding research project, Before Shakespeare.

Posted: 15 April 2016

The Shakespeare 400: New Perspectives event, which takes place on Saturday 23 April, the official anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, will bring together notable academics from across the UK specialising in the Tudor and Elizabethan period of literary history in a series of lectures and discussions devoted to bringing the best and latest Shakespeare scholarship to new audiences.

Dr Kesson, who is headlining the festival, will speak about his new research project that aims to set the Bard in context and prove that there is much more to Tudor and Elizabethan drama than just Shakespeare.

He will argue that although Shakespeare is by far the most recognised author of his day, many other playwrights had been creating ground-breaking work for a generation earlier. He will also talk about the implications for our understanding of theatre at the time of Shakespeare, drawing attention to the playhouses as the first public-facing purpose-built theatres in Europe since the Roman Empire.

Dr Kesson said: “These playhouses were then the only spaces people could meet with large groups of strangers in the name of fictional entertainment, providing a newly popular, perhaps even democratic conversation about politics and religion at a time when such conversations were technically illegal. As ever, I’ll be asking how these theatres opened and what effect they have.”

Dr Kesson will also lead a workshop at the festival with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Associate Artist, Jimmy Tucker. In the workshop the pair will perform, what is believed to be for the first time, an alternative scene from the Shakespearean play, Titus Andronicus as recorded by Henry Peacham, a contemporary of Shakespeare.

Study English Literature at Roehampton.

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