Last week was the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death - a moment of national, international, historical and cultural significance. For DMU it was a chance to celebrate a living creative presence we still work with every day, one we believe has new things to say and to teach, four centuries on.
To mark the anniversary, Dr Siobhan Keenan, Reader in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at DMU published fresh evidence that the playwright’s famous works were an immediate hit, being performed across England by numerous theatre groups in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The tales, journals and records which Dr Keenan uncovered during her research form part of a new BBC website called Shakespeare on Tour.
Dr Keenan has spoken about her findings on BBC East Midlands Today and BBC Radio Leicester.
On Sunday 24 April she appeared in a special edition of BBC1’s Countryfile alongside Dame Judi Dench and presenter John Craven, as they retraced the footsteps of The King’s Men, the acting troupe Shakespeare belonged to that toured the countryside performing his plays.
Dr Keenan’s research also outlines how Leicester was one of the most important cities in the East Midlands and a regular stopping point for touring players on their way to and from London.
It unearthed that Shakespeare’s company visited Leicester a number of times in the early 17th century, with the first evidence of a possible visit dating from 1606.
Another Shakespeare expert at DMU, Professor Gabriel Egan, has been awarded £250,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to use the latest computer techniques to try and prove once and for all whether the Bard really did write all his work himself.
To thine own 'selfie' be true to win #DMUBard prizes
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend us your ears!
We are running a brilliant competition to celebrate Shakespeare and to give lucky lovers of all things Bard the chance to win one of five £50 Amazon vouchers.
We want DMU students and staff to share their Shakespeare-inspired Twitter or Instagram posts with us using #DMUBard. This can be anything from a selfie of you with a Shakespeare-inspired prop, to a photo of you reading your favourite Shakespeare play or even a short clip of you reciting your favourite Shakespeare line. The possibilities are endless!
Our celebratory activities
We also hosted exciting activities that showcased our academic excellence and our student talent pool, connecting directly with local schools and the wider community. These centred on Leicester’s Guildhall, a perfect setting for Shakespeare performances and spin-off events.
The DMU celebrations kicked off with a workshop for Drama Studies students on the Shakespeare module, providing expert fight scene tuition from a former graduate turned actor and fight director.
The power and relevance of Shakespeare, 400 years after his death, was captured in a series of striking and creative performances by DMU students.
On Friday 22 April, ahead of the actual anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on 23 April, there was a special focus with the launch of Shakespeare’s Cultural Capital, a book written by DMU’s Vice-Chancellor Dominic Shellard and Dr Keenan exploring Shakespeare’s place in national life.
Held at the Heritage Centre, it included talks by the authors and Deborah Cartmell, Professor in English, yet another of DMU’s team of academic experts in this field, which also boasts Dr Roger Clegg, Dr Elinor Parsons and Professor Andy Mousley.
In addtion Drama Studies and Performing Arts students from the Shakespeare in Performance module showed moments from The Taming of the Shrew to primary schoolchildren, and then supported them to put on performances of their own. Organised by DMU Square Mile, this took place at The Guildhall
There is also a pop-up exhibition unitil 29 April organised by DMU’s Special Collections Team celebrating the life and work of Shakespeare in the DMU Heritage Centre. Entry to the centre, in our Hawthorn Building, is free.
De Montfort Students' Union societies were a part of celebrations as well, including drama and dance, creative writing, speed readings and pop-up performances around campus.