This free afternoon public symposium at Rhodes College, Memphis, TN, sounds a treat and is exactly my area of research… However, the new semester will have just started, and I’m teaching the day before. Forget the fact that a round trip ticket from York, UK, would cancel out the freeness of the event! Which is a shame – I quite fancy the King in the morning and the Bard in the afternoon!
But the Global Hamlets Symposium , for anyone who is in the area, is not to be missed. Two of the speakers, Alex (Alexa) Huang and Margaret Litvin, have been at the forefront of promoting awareness of Chinese and Arab Shakespeares respectively in Western scholarship. Huang‘s Chinese Shakespeares is a fascinating, eclectic study of how Shakespeare was appropriated by Chinese activists, novelists, playwrights and filmakers over the course of the 20C. It inspired me to pick up a Peking Foreign Languages Press paperback that had been sitting on my bookshelf since the early 1990s, when I first went out to teach in Mainland China: Lao She’s Mr Ma and Son: a Sojourn in London. The ex-pat son is an ineffectual Hamlet figure, a metaphor for the dilemma of modern China between the world wars. My favourite bit of the book, however, is when the traditionalist Old Man Ma, at a loss for something to do on a wet afternoon, decides to go to the theatre, as he would have done in China. He then changes his mind because he remembers that in England theatre is just a group of people walking about on a stage and mumbling… Litvin‘s Hamlet’s Arab Journey charts how an idealist young ‘Arab hero Hamlet’ ends up an ineffectual Islamist Hamlet in her detailed and illuminating case-study of Hamlet on the Egyptian stage. Both books are terrific reads, even if you’re not an intercultural performance scholar! I don’t know the work of the third speaker, David Schalkwyk, but I believe he will be speaking on South African appropriation.
There will also be an array of Hamletian song, spoof and martial arts in performance and on film…
If anyone has any feedback on it, feel free to use my comment boxes!