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Visual Shakespeare comes alive; three presenters share their perspectives on visually translating Shakespeare

October 14, 2016
By Andrew Greenman, '10

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On October 13, 2016, three proclaimed presenters came to Gallaudet and participated in the First Folio! lecture series activities by explaining the visual nature of Shakespeare’s works and offering different perspectives.

Nathan Weinberger, dramaturg and playwright for Synetic Theater, and co-adapter of Synetic’s production of Much Ado About Nothing, explained how Shakespeare’s works could be translated into many different ways.  

“Shakespeare can be silent,” said Weinberger. “His works can be translated to opera, to different languages, to different visual settings, and even to gestures and mime.”  

Weinberger emphasized the importance of visual concepts being linked and working together. “It’s important for people to understand the language, and this can be conveyed using visuals,” said Weinberger.  

Paul Reisman, associate artistic director, Faction of Fools Theatre Company, concentrated on improvisation.  

“It is all about improvising and applying our language to his works,” said Reisman. “Shakespeare, in particular, knew all about how tragedy works. His language was converted to physical movements in countless plays, which is visual.”  

Reisman also explained about how romance became visual, using examples of different plays such as Romeo and Juliet, focusing specifically on the lovers’ facial expressions and body gestures.

Michele Osherow, resident dramaturg at Washington D.C.’s Folger Shakespeare Library and associate professor of English, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, concluded that Shakespeare’s works allowed for collaboration.  

“The stage has a way of enabling you to free yourself,” said Osherow. “Shakespeare’s words are visual at their core and allows people to work with each other, interpreting his works differently.”

Jill Bradbury, English professor and First Folio! director, acknowledged the three presenters. “These three lecturers represent high-quality interpretations of Shakespeare’s works,” said Bradbury.

First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and by the generous support of Google.org, The Lord Browne of Madingley, Vinton and Sigrid Cerf, the British Council, Stuart and Mimi Rose, Albert and Shirley Small, and other generous donors. View the schedule of events here.   

14 October 2016
By Andrew Greenman, '10

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Andrew Greenman, '10

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