Shakespeare
AMERICA

“There was a star danced, and under that was I born.”
William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

What is ShakespeareAMERICA?

As a joint project of the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, ShakespeareAMERICA is a premiere global force bridging Shakespeare performance and scholarship, a place for rigorous, open-minded and innovative programs guided by a collaborative spirit.

Watch the ShakespeareAMERICA Video to Learn More

Our Mission

ShakespeareAMERICA is an accessible forum for practitioners, scholars, teachers, students, and audiences that explores and documents new and provocative thinking about the world and works of William Shakespeare through the prism of an American perspective, and shares its discoveries through multiple 21st Century platforms.

Shakespeare in a Modern World

No playwright—indeed no writer of any kind—has ever captured the depth and range and mystery of human experience with the acute insight and dazzling language of Shakespeare. Indeed, so fully and dynamically does Shakespeare render human behavior on stage that scholars still endlessly debate the meaning of his plays, finding within them a seemingly bottomless well of philosophical, political, and psychological insight.

David McCandless, Director, Shakespeare Studies Program, Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University

Ben Jonson famously characterized Shakespeare as “not of an age, but for all time.” The truth of this sentiment is everywhere evident: Shakespeare is, by a colossal margin, the most widely-produced playwright in the world. New festivals devoted to his work spring up regularly, his plays are recurrently adapted into popular films, and the dispersal of his words and images into digital media increases by the week. It is no exaggeration to say that Shakespeare has never been more popular than he is now, and for a rather simple reason. It is no wonder that Jan Kott, way back in the 60’s called Shakespeare “our contemporary.” One might say that the history of Shakespearean performance and criticism is a history of reconfiguring the plays according to the consciousness of the times. Thus Henry V may become an anti-war play, The Merchant of Venice an exposé of racial intolerance, and The Tempest a critique of colonialism—meanings unlikely to have occurred to Shakespeare‘s original audience. Perhaps we should amend Jonson’s famous dictum to say that Shakespeare was not of an age, but for any and all ages. He was and is every era’s contemporary.

Past Activities

SYMPOSIUM: MUCH ADO ABOUT SHAKESPEARE IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICA –

May 2, 2015

As part of its ongoing investigation of Shakespeare’s place in modern American Culture and in concert with the 2015 Oregon Shakespeare Festival production of Much Ado About Nothing, ShakespeareAMERICA presented a special Symposium on the campus of Southern Oregon University in May 2015 focusing on contemporary performances and adaptations of Much Ado About Nothing. The Symposium included a lecture by Hollywood film scholar Steve Vineberg on “Shakespeare in Hollywood,” a special screening of Joss Whedon’s 2012 film version of Much Ado About Nothing set in a posh Los Angeles neighborhood, moderated multimedia performance by SOU students examining how the central issues of love and shaming in the Shakespeare play is played out in contemporary social media culture. There was also a panel discussion of distinguished artists including David McCandless, Leah Anderson, Evelyn Gajowski and Lydia Garcia on the making of OSF’s production of Much Ado About Nothing.

* Watch portions of the panel discussion below

Artist Panel Discussion – Much Ado About Shakespeare in Contemporary America Symposium – May 2015

Multicultural Shakespeare – October 2016

Staff

Dr. David R. Humphrey, Director
Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University
humphred2@sou.edu
541-552-6522

Dr. David McCandless, Director
Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University
Shakespeare Studies Program
mccandled@sou.edu
541-552-8041

Helen Eckard, Program Assistant
Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University
Shakespeare Studies Program
eckardh@sou.edu
541-552-6346

Learn More About ShakespeareAMERICA…

Questions? Contact Us

Dr. David McCandless, Director of Shakespeare Studies

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