All things Shakespeare will come alive this fall on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, as the College of Liberal Arts and School of the Arts highlight the influence William Shakespeare has had on our culture the past 400 years. The events begin with a free concert, “Lute Songs from the Time of Shakespeare,” at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 21, and culminate with the Nevada Repertory Company’s world premiere of “Hamlet” done in Original Pronunciation (OP) on Nov. 1.
“Lute Songs from the Time of Shakespeare” will take place in the Randall Rotunda, Matthewson-IGT Knowledge Center and feature the University’s Department of Music Director of Voice and Vocal Studies Katharine DeBoer, soprano; visiting artist James Meadors, lute; and members of Reno Early Music.
“We are performing English songs with lute accompaniment that were all written during the years when Shakespeare was active as a playwright and poet,” Meadors said. “Compositions include the music and poetry of Thomas Campion, along with songs by John Dowland, Thomas Morley and others.”
Meadors earned a doctorate degree in musicology at Harvard University, where he wrote his dissertation on 16th-century Italian lute music. DeBoer has been a member of the University faculty since 1995, having received her doctorate in vocal performance at the University of Illinois. DeBoer has performed as a soloist with many choral societies, orchestras and opera companies. Reno Early Music is a vocal ensemble dedicated to the performance of early music from the Middle Ages on. Regular members include University Associate Professor and Music Chair Louis Niebur, tenor/baritone; DeBoer, soprano; and University English Professor Phillip Boardman, bass.
Additional Shakespearean events are currently being planned, including a multidisciplinary panel discussion on “Hamlet,” its place in history and the use of OP, as well as other lectures by departments throughout the College of Liberal Arts.
“Psychologically complex, historically and linguistically rich, ’Hamlet‘ will showcase our Theatre Program while involving the interdisciplinary range of faculty, students and programs in the College of Liberal Arts,” Scott Casper, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said.
Amazingly, the last time “Hamlet” was presented in its original dialect was centuries ago. In fact, only four OP productions of anything Shakespearean have been performed in modern times: two recently at The Globe Theatre in London, one at the University of Kansas, and one at Cambridge in the 1950s.
The creative team includes the renowned English linguist and The Globe’s own consultant David Crystal, author of “Pronouncing Shakespeare”; British superstar actor and scholar Ben Crystal, who will play Hamlet; the University’s award-winning Shakespearean scholar, co-editor of “The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works of William Shakespeare,” and this production’s dramaturge, professor Eric Rasmussen; and the University’s Nevada Repertory Company director and department chair Rob Gander.
“Original Pronunciation is almost like a dialect, grounded not in geography but through time,” Gander said. “When Shakespeare was writing, ‘love’ and ‘prove’ rhymed. By employing original pronunciation, we can experience the text as it was meant to be heard. Original Pronunciation is still remarkably easy to understand, even to a modern ear.”
Preview performances of “Hamlet” in original pronunciation will take place Nov. 1 - 3, with additional performances Nov. 4 - 20. Free parking for all School of the Arts events is available after 7 p.m. in the Brian Whalen Parking Complex, north of Church Fine Arts. A patron drop-off area is located in front of Church Fine Arts on North Virginia Street, just north of College Drive. Tickets will be available for purchase soon at My Nevada Tickets.