How queer was Shakespearean theatre in the 1600s?
Bringing a digital approach to learning about theatre, A Bit Lit are launching their series with an event on 15 January.
This will kick off a programme of events and courses that draw on historical and cultural research and performance expertise.
A Day Out in Shakespeare’s Theatre is an opportunity to imagine a trip to the theatre in the 1600s, diving into the decisions and dilemmas they might have faced while taking in the sights, sounds and even smells of the day – it’s a two-hour experience that will test the limits of Zoom.
A Day Out in Shakespeare’s Theatre draws together talents from the worlds of theatre and academia including Sir Simon Russell Beale and This is Shakespeare author Professor Emma Smith, who will introduce the event.
Audience members will have a chance to create their own Shakespearean-era production with performers from improv troupe The Pantaloons, taking learning about Shakespeare’s theatre to a new, more immersive level.
To help build the atmosphere and provide clues as the audience creates the show, early modern theatre specialists Dolphin’s Back will perform a scene from the era, theatre and performance artist Emma Frankland and actor, theatre-maker, writer, and drag queen Bea Webster will deliver traffic and weather reports for the day.
“I’m really excited to be joining A Bit Lit’s new platform, bringing a sense of play, fun and experiment to the world of learning and performance…” says Bea Webster. “I’m especially excited by the way they’ve foregrounded deaf and disabled academics and performers in their patrons, performers and audience.”
The audience will then be joined by academics who will reveal surprising and unknown research about the period, including the Museum of London Archaeology’s Heather Knight on forgotten performance venues and Before Shakespeare’s Callan Davies on the women who ran Shakespearean theatre, and Holly Dugan on the
smells of early modern London.
“I’m excited to be part of the launch for A Bit Lit…” says Professor Emma Smith, Professor of Shakespeare Studies, University of Oxford. “I look forward to seeing how it’ll shake up what we expect from the online learning space and mash up the insights of research and scholarship with the energies of live theatre and improv.”
Aimed at those aged 14 and up, audiences will be able to enjoy the experience alone, or as a group.
“We are really excited to launch this new venture, creating a new space for learning together and connecting wide audience to the latest ideas and creative work…” explain Andy Kesson and Jimmy Tucker – founders of A Bit Lit. “A Day Out at Shakespeare’s Theatre will launch our new platform perfectly with its blend of archaeological, archival and performance-based discoveries and a real sense of anarchic fun. The theatres of Shakespeare’s time were brand-new experiments in public entertainment and the communication of innovative ideas, and we hope to create something similar online.”