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Castle Theatre Company A Midsummer Night's Dream

This summer the University and our Department of English Studies celebrate 400 years of Shakespeare in Durham in the best possible way - through world-class theatre.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of “Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies”, better known to us today as the First Folio. The book, a landmark publication even at the time it was printed, has over time acquired iconic status. Durham University is proud to have a copy of the First Folio within our collections.

This summer we are celebrating the links we have to the Great Bard and welcoming exceptional productions of his plays to the City, produced by both our students and our partner organisations - The Elysium Theatre and the Durham Fringe Festival

Supporting the Festival

In the lead up to the Durham Shakespeare Festival, academics in our Department of English Studies have been offering their insight into the importance and relevance of Shakespeare today. This includes:

  • A podcast featuring Professor Simon James and the director of Elysium Theatre, Jake Murray. Here they talk about Shakespeare in education, directing Shakespeare, Shakespeare in the North East, and why Shakespeare is or should be for everyone.
  • A podcast with Dr Daniel Blank and Jake Murray on Shakespeare's theatre practise and the context of the Elizabethan stage.  
  • A blog post with Dr Daniel Blank and Jake Murray discussing how Elysium's new production of Macbeth will reimagine this challenging play in our contemporary moment.

Studying Shakespeare in Durham

Shakespeare is central to our undergraduate curriculum, being taught on our Level 1 module Introduction to Drama and on a Level 2 compulsory module dedicated to his plays and poetry. Students may also study how Shakespeare has moved into other media, such as film and video games.

Academics who work on Shakespeare include Dr Daniel Blank, who recently published a book exploring how Shakespeare was inspired by student theatre, Dr Vladimir Brljak, who has written on Shakespeare’s engagement with political and religious controversies of his time, and Dr Mark Chambers, Professor Barbara Ravelhofer, and Professor John McKinnell, who worked on the project Records of Early English Drama North East that examined the history and popularity of performances around Shakespeare's time.