Medieval Giants in Early Modern London

Our next event

5 June 2015, Dr Alixe Bovey, Medieval Giants in Early Modern London
Birkbeck, Malet Street, Room B18, 6.30 pm, members free (membership £7), non members £4

We are delighted to welcome Dr Alixe Bovey to Birkbeck to speak on this fascinating topic.

Dr Alixe Bovey is the Head of Research at the Courtauld Institute of Art. For More about Dr Bovey please see

Don’t forget that all our events are open to non Birkbeck friends and colleagues.
We look forward to seeing you on 5 June.


Meta-Play: Early Modern Drama and Metatheatre, Kent, 13-14 June 2015

Saturday 13 June

***Register at

10.30-11.00: Registration

11.00-12.00: Keynote Lecture Professor Robert Shaughnessy (University of Kent)

12.00-1.30: Panel 1
Contemporary Practice at Shakespeare’s Globe and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
• ‘Then draw the model': theatre architecture as metatheatre in Elizabethan/Jacobean performance spaces- Ildiko Solti (Independent Scholar)
• Across the Ages: Child Players and Reconstruction of Original Practice – Mark Hamilton (Regent’s University London)
• Meta-play and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – Will Tosh (Shakespeare’s Globe)

2.30-4.30: Panel 2
Embodying Metatheatre: Now and Then
• Gesture and social cognition in Shakespeare’s theatre – Darren Tunstall (Guildford School of Acting, University of Surrey)
• Matter-Theatre: Cymbeline’s Rhetoric and Conspicuous Construction – Callan Davies (Exeter)
• Levels of communication in a Norwegian A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Lars Harald Maagerø (King’s)
• Touching the other in Cheek by Jowl’s Measure for Measure – Pascale Aebischer (Exeter)

4.45-6.15: Performance Workshop
Directed by Emma Whipday (Oxford), including Roundtable Discussion

Sunday 14 June

9.45-11.15: Panel 3
Theorizing Metatheatre
• Metatheatre Via Comedy and Tragedy: Comedy and Tragedy Via Metatheatre – John Kerr (Minnesota)
• Are Shakespeare’s plays always metatheatrical? – Steve Purcell (Warwick)
• All ‘Metatheatre’ is Not Created Equal: The Knight of the Burning Pestle, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Navigation of the Spectrum of Dramatic Representation – Nathaniel C. Leonard (Westminster College, Missouri)

11.30-1.00: Panel 4
Social Life, Social Spaces
• This is the night that I must play my part’: Metatheatricality as a Trope for The Socially Corrective Power of Theatre in Thomas Heywood’s A Woman Killed with Kindness (1603) – Iman Sheeha (Warwick)
• Playing with(in) London spaces: new meanings of metatheatre behind the dramatic success of the Restoration libertine – Gabriella Infante (King’s)
• Pleasing Fantasies: Metatheatre as Political Fiction in Othello – Ben Morgan (Oxford)

2.00-3.30: Panel 5
Engaging Audiences
• ‘A stranger Pyramus than e’er played here’: some uses of metatheatre in A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Trevor R Griffiths (Exeter)
• ‘A frightful pleasure’: metadrama, malcontents, attraction and repulsion in The Changeling’ – Jan Doorly (King’s)
• “So Much For My Happy Ending”: Avoiding The Happy Ending in Twelfth Night – Mary Way (Kent)

3.45-4.45: Performing Gender Practitioner Panel
Will Tosh (Shakespeare’s Globe)
Kirsty Bushell (RSC)
Jimmy Tucker (Propeller)

4.45-5.45: Keynote Speaker: Dr Bridget Escolme (Queen Mary, University of London)

***Register at

***For questions please email and

Join us for our next event!

8 May 2015, Dr Linda Grant, From pornographic sparrows to Nashe’s dildo: Exploring the erotic in early modern literature

Birkbeck, Room 101, 30 Russell Square 6.30 pm, members free (membership £7), non members £4


We are delighted to welcome Dr Linda Grant to Birkbeck to speak on the erotic in early modern literature.


Don’t forget that all our events are open to non Birkbeck friends and colleagues.


We look forward to seeing you on 8 May!

Our Next Event!

Our next event will be a talk by Dr Philip Mansel on Louis XIV and Nationalism, Birkbeck on Friday 17 April, Room 417, Malet Street at 6.30 to be followed by drinks.

For more information about Dr Mansel please see his website

You do not have to be a Birkbeck Student to attend this event. All are welcome (members free, membership £7, non members £4)

CFP: Meta-Play: Early Modern Drama and Metatheatre

University of Kent
13-14 June 2015

Now that over half a century has passed since Lionel Abel coined the term ‘metatheatre’ with particular reference to the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries and even identified a new genre, the ‘metaplay’, it is time for a conference that will bring together academics and theatre practitioners to re-assess the place of metatheatre in early modern drama studies. This interdisciplinary conference will invite literary scholars and theatre historians as well as actors and directors to consider metatheatre’s hugely influential role in critical theories, methodologies and lexicons, exploring its conceptual significance both in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and our own historical period.

In light of recent work in areas such as gender and cross-dressing, props and the materiality of the stage, and new character criticism, the term ‘metatheatre’ and its application need re-evaluating. The conference will initiate discussions on early modern metatheatre as a literary or dramatic effect, a critical paradigm, a historically contingent concept, a materially-manifested phenomenon, and even as a philosophical approach to drama. It will be an opportunity to address gaps in the field by focusing on metatheatre’s place in and between theory and practice, enabling scholars, actors and directors not only to engage productively with early modern examples of what Abel would call metaplays, but also to play with the meta- as a critical tool.

The conference’s focus on performance and theatrical practice will build on the strong development in recent years of interest in practice-based research into early modern drama. The reconstruction of early modern theatres, such as the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in London (opened in early 2014), has created new resources and enthusiasm for this kind of research. The conference will facilitate new work through panels and plenaries, but also two creative sessions involving actors and directors of early modern theatre. The plenary speakers will be Professor Robert Shaughnessy (University of Kent) and Dr Bridget Escolme (Queen Mary, University of London).

Paper proposals of up to 300 words, accompanied by a short biographical statement, should be submitted to Harry Newman and Sarah Dustagheer by Monday 4 May. There are three postgraduate bursaries available. Please specify in your proposal if you would like one of these. Early submissions will be preferred.

Papers might address the following:

• Play within a play
• Dumb shows
• Asides, Prologues, inductions, Epilogues, soliloquies
• Parody, imitation, iteration
• Reconstructed theatres and metatheatre
• Actor – audience interaction
• Cross-dressing and the performance of gender
• Lexicon/semantics of metatheatre
• Metatheatre as a philosophical approach to drama
• Metatheatre as methodology – anachronism and historical contingency in critical discourse
• Character post-Harold Bloom
• Materiality of the stage
• Boundaries between real world and play world
• Metatheatre and genre
• Performance and self-consciousness
• Theatre and actor as subject matter
• Metatheatre in modern Shakespeare/early modern performances
• Relevance/value of ‘fourth-wall’
• Levels of metatheatricality across genre, repertory and canon
• Metatheatre in print culture

Birkbeck Early Modern Society