We have an exciting slate of Strode-sponsored programs coming up this spring, compiled by program director and Hudson Strode Professor Michelle Dowd– please take note of these events and mark your calendars accordingly! Thanks to the abundance of early modern performances and films on offer this semester, Improbable Fictions is temporarily shifting focus away from Shakespeare and toward less bardolized early modern playwrights: Margaret Cavendish, John Lyly, and Margherita Costa.
We are sponsoring three fantastic performances this spring in conjunction with EN667, The Shakespeare in Performance Practicum. All three events are free and open to all members of the UA community. A poster for the ASC shows is attached. More details to follow!
American Shakespeare Center touring company performance of The Comedy of Errors,Friday, February 15, 7:30PM (pre-show music begins at 7:00PM). Brock Recital Hall, Samford University, Birmingham.
American Shakespeare Center touring company performance of The Winter’s Tale,Saturday, February 16, 7:30PM (pre-show music begins at 7:00PM). Brock Recital Hall, Samford University, Birmingham.
Resurgens Theatre Company touring performance of The Changeling, Tuesday, February 26, 7:30PM. Allen Bales Theater, UA.
We are excited to welcome the following guest speakers this spring. All events are free and open to the public:
Brent Griffin, Artistic Director of the Resurgens Theater Company. Tuesday, February 26. Title TBA. 5PM in the Allen Bales Theatre (UA).
Wendy Wall (Northwestern University). Thursday, March 28. Title TBA. 5PM in 301 Morgan Hall.
Strode Film Series:
Please also check out the Strode Film Series schedule for the spring. Note that some events will be held at the Bama theater, and others will be held on campus. All shows are free and open to the public. For more information, please visit the Film Series’ website: http://shakespearefilmseries.ua.edu/
Monday, January 28: Globe Production of The Duchess of Malfi. Morgan 301, 7:30PM.
Monday, February 11. Warm Bodies. Bama Theatre, 7:30PM.
Monday, March 25: Kozintsev’s King Lear. Morgan 301, 7:30PM.
Monday, April 15: Shakespeare in Love. Bama Theatre, 7:30PM.
Improbable Fictions is hosting several events this spring. The first three are for small groups and thus aren’t appropriate as a broad extra credit opportunity for students, but the last performance will be perfect for 200 level English courses and the like. If you’d like to participate or just come listen to the first three, please RSVP.
Wed, Jan 16, 6:30pm in 301 Morgan Hall, a cold reading of Margaret Cavendish’s The Convent of Pleasure, dramaturged by Chris Koester (email@example.com).
Wed, Feb 6, 6:30pm in 301 Morgan Hall, a cold reading of John Lyly’s Gallathea, dramaturged by Mark Hulse (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Wed, Mar 6, time TBA at the Strode House, a cold reading of Margherita Costa’s burlesque “ridiculous comedy” entitled The Buffoons (1641), translated by Jessica Goethals. The reading will be dramaturged by Deborah Parker (email@example.com).
Wed, Apr 3, 7:30pm at the Tuscaloosa Cultural Arts Center (http://cac.tuscarts.org/contactus.php), a selection of staged readings we’re calling “Early Modern Strangers,” inspired by Shakespeare’s “The Stranger’s Case” from Sir Thomas More (check out Sir Ian McKellen’s reading). The event will include respondents and a Q&A about immigration and crossing borders in the early modern period. Dramaturged by Nic Helms and Cordelia Ross (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com).
We’ve still got room for participants for all shows, so feel free to reach out to Nic Helms (firstname.lastname@example.org) or any of our directors if you’re interested!
Please mark your calendars for these events, and stay tuned for additional announcements and updates!!!
And, if you aren’t doing so already, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter: “Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies” (FB); @hudstrode (Twitter); and @improbfictions (Twitter).
Our staged reading of Othello was a smashing success attended by a packed house of over 125 people. You can find pictures here, courtesy of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences. I’d also like to share with you the program from the event (Othello_playbill) and an audio recording of the reading:
[The play begins at about the 6 minute mark. The audio quality is improved this time around, though beware: applause and the guitar are coming through rather loud at the beginning and end of the recording.]
Last week’s Medieval Medley was a delight! We packed out Gorgas 205 with an audience of nearly eighty. I can’t decide whether my favorite moment was Steve Burch spouting ‘LATIN!’ or Mark Cobb making out with pots and pans. If you missed the event (or would like to relive it), check out the media below: the program, production photos, and audio from the event. (Listen with care: the audio quality is not the best.)
· Friday, November 2, 5:00 pm, Improbable Fictions will present an array of American Literature readings as part of First Friday Art Walk in Downtown Tuscaloosa and the Southern Literary Trail’s Exhibit of the Steve Soboroff Typewriter Collection. On display will be George Bernard Shaw’s typewriter along with others used by Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, Gore Vidal, Ray Bradbury, Tom Hanks, Maya Angelou, and John Lennon. The readings and exhibit will be at the Tuscaloosa Cultural Arts Center (http://cac.tuscarts.org/contactus.php).
As always, if you’re interested in getting involved, leave a comment or email me at email@example.com!
If you’re interested in reading my work, I’ve got a limited number of free eprints I can distribute. Email me and I’ll send you the link (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Here’s the abstract:
For John Donne’s “The Ecstasy”, cognitive ecology offers a new approach to the divide between Platonism and Aristotelianism in the poem, presenting a continuum between body and soul rather than an opposition or equivalence. In this essay, I argue that Donne charts a continuum of body and soul through a chain of metaphors, knitting together an ecstasy that is both outside and beside the self. One can neither conceive of nor experience such an ecstasy without employing embodied metaphors, metaphors that enable the conceptual movement within the poem. Strictly speaking, souls cannot move, speak, mix, or descend: all these actions are embodied concepts that use human motor-schema to map out abstract notions. The soul’s movement occurs in a conceptual space carved out through this chaotic change and exchange of embodied metaphors. This movement of the soul through the body, via the body, knits the “knot, which makes us man”.
April is the cruelest month, and I am currently treading water in a sea of ungraded essays. That’s the backdrop for why I am so thrilled to announce that my book, Cognition, Mindreading, and Shakespeare’s Characters, will be published in 2019 as part of Palgrave Macmillan’s Cognitive Studies in Literature and Performance Series! Thanks so much to everyone who has helped this project come to fruition, in particular my mentor Sharon O’Dair and everyone with the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies at the University of Alabama.
Thanks as well to Steve Burch, Tricia McElroy, Jen Drouin Perso, and Chase Wrenn for reading drafts and providing feedback, to Michelle Dowd for continued Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies support, to Kate Matheny for editing, and to Alissa Helms for supporting me, keeping me sane, and treading the waters of academia hand in hand with me! And to everyone else who has helped me along the path: social media doesn’t have enough space for me to thank everyone individually, so you’ll all have to settle for a hug in person.
Below you’ll find Cordelia Ross’ introduction to Saturday’s reading of two York Corpus Cristi Plays, along with photos from the production courtesy of Michelle Dowd, the director of the Hudson Strode Program. Special thanks go to Dr. Chester N. Scoville and Dr. Kimberley M. Yates, who adapted the texts we performed.
(Also, if you’re wondering why the photos all look a bit purple, it’s the lighting at First Christian Church in Tuscaloosa!)
Good morning. I’m Cordelia Ross, an instructor at the University of Alabama. Welcome to the Improbable Fictions staged reading of two York Corpus Cristi plays “The Resurrection and Christ’s Appearance to Mary Magdalen.” Improbable Fictions is a project of the Hudson-Strode Program in Renaissance Studies, Department of English at the University of Alabama. Its mission is to present staged readings of plays to make them more accessible to students and to the community. Although Improbable Fictions principally performs works of Shakespeare, their work has ranged from modern adaptations to ancient Greek tragedies. A staged reading means that the actors have rehearsed a limited number of times and will be performing with scripts in hand. “The Resurrection” and “Christ’s Appearance to Mary Magdalen” are medieval dramas that would have been performed by a local guild on a traveling wagon that went to designated spots in town. Guilds took great pride in their productions and were carefully regulated in when and where they could perform. Each performance had a designated feast day when it should be performed, and the town leaders would choose locations around town for the carts to go for their performance. They even levied rather steep fines when guilds disregarded these regulations. The “Resurrection Play” and “Christ’s Appearance” were the domain of the carpenter’s and winedrawer’s guilds. A winedrawer worked in a vineyard and acted as professional tasters.
Like other medieval dramas, “The Resurrection Play,” and “Christ’s Appearance to Mary Magdalene” dramatizes a particular Christian narrative: in this case, two, Christ’s resurrection and his appearance to Mary Magdalene. Like many medieval dramas, the plays contain a bit of humor that in some ways pokes fun at other guilds. In the first play, we see the soldiers panic when Christ’s body disappears and come up with a rather ridiculous explanation to avoid discipline. Despite the humor we also see a careful reflection of one of the most important holy days of year, Easter. Today’s performers are a combination of members of Tuscaloosa’s Shakespeare troupe, The Rude Mechanicals, and students and faculty from the University of Alabama. We hope you enjoy the plays as much as we do.
The spring rushes on apace, and Improbable Fictions has two Shakespeare-adjacent offerings for you in April:
First, onSaturday, April 7th at 1:00 pm, Improbable Fictions will present a staged reading of “The Resurrection Play” from the medieval York Cycle of plays. Directed by Nic Helms, dramaturged by Cordelia Ross, and hosted by First Christian Church of Tuscaloosa. This short play will be performed with commentary by Cordelia Ross and Reverend Tim Trussell-Smith.
Second, on Thursday, April 19th at 7:30 pm, at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, Improbable Fictions will present a staged reading of Edward Bond’s Bingo (Scenes of Money and Death), a 1973 play about Shakespeare’s final years: retired in Stratford, unable to connect with his family and community, burned out by the inhumanity he witnessed daily in London and now back home, Shakespeare ponders his past and present, only to keep asking, “Was anything done?” Written by the acclaimed playwright Edward Bond (Saved, The Sea, Lear), this is a remarkably insightful look at our greatest writer. Directed by Steve Burch.
Both events are free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies.