Throwing light on Shakespeare – why can’t we allow audiences to understand and be stimulated by Shakespeare rather than endlessly interpreting the work?

20. Mai 2021 18:00

Paul Stebbings

*Please register till May 18 to By May 19 the registered participants will have received the login details.

Shakespeare is the world’s most popular dramatist and perhaps the world’s most popular artist. His impact crosses all cultural boundaries. I have presented the same production of HAMLET in Iran and to US troops in the Gulf within the same month, it is hard to imagine more different audiences. But this most profound of artists is regularly misunderstood or deliberately skewed by directors who wish to place interpretation above understanding or serious exploration. I have no desire to turn Shakespeare into a museum-piece, but it becomes increasingly rare to go to the theatre and be able to “wrestle” with the complexities of Shakespeare rather than decipher the intentions of the director.
This lecture is not about disagreeing with other directors or damning their work! It is about the depth of meaning in Shakespeare and how we can approach his work, to allow his unique insight into the human condition to appear on the stage and not be obscured by simplification and easy tricks. For example, take out a mobile phone in a Renaissance play and that’s an easy laugh! It’s harder, but surely more rewarding, to make an original joke of Shakespeare come to life. That is the job of a director. In Shakespeare’s own words: “The play’s the thing.”

Biographical Notes:
Paul Stebbings is Artistic Director of TNT theatre Britain and the American Drama Group Europe, which combine to make “the world’s most popular touring theatre company” (China National TV) – giving more performances in more countries in a single year than any other theatre company. Paul received a first-class degree from Bristol University drama department. He trained in the Grotowski physical theatre method in Britain and Poland and founded TNT in 1980. In 1993 he joined forces with producer Grantly Marshall and the American Drama Group Europe. He is an actor, and playwright as well as a director and has also worked extensively in music theatre, winning prizes at the Munich Biennale and from the International Theatre Institute. He is a regular director at China’s best theatre: The Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre and for the noted Latin American company Teatro Espressivo de Costa Rica. He has directed professionally in Russian, German, Italian and Greek, and is in continuous production of plays in Mandarin and Spanish. His current projects include: the open-air tour of HAMLET in castles and palaces in Europe this summer, a revival of THE WAVE (which examines how fascism can arise in a democracy), ANIMAL FARM and a collaboration with Munich’s Deutsches theater for a new musical based on his script of FRANKENSTEIN (Auf Deutsch). His Spanish version of Dicken’s CHRISTMAS CAROL will continue in Costa Rica. In 2020 Paul published a book about his work: TNT The New Theatre (Triarchy Press UK). In 2013 Paul Stebbings was awarded an M.B.E at Buckingham Palace by H.M the Queen for services to British culture.
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