Shakespeare Goes to Urbino

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A little last minute – but still just in time….

‘The Shakespeare in Italy Summer School will be held from 12-26th July 2014 in the lovely walled city of Urbino, which is tucked away in the hills near Italy’s upper Adriatic coast.

The summer school will be taught, at the invitation of the University of Urbino, by four leading Shakespearian directors and performers. All have made distinguished contributions to the work of the Royal Shakespeare Company, three of them having spent substantial parts of their careers with the RSC. Josie Lawrence, Bill Alexander, Michael Pennington and Martin Best will explore theatrical and critical approaches to three of Shakespeare’s ‘Italian’ plays – and will also set out to discover what part the culture and history of Italy, and ‘the Italian context’, play in the appreciation and understanding of Shakespeare. Josie Lawrence will lead work on Much Ado About Nothing, Bill Alexander on The Merchant of Venice and Michael Pennington on Romeo and Juliet. Martin Best will perform his lecture-recital, Shakespeare’s Music Hall and teach a seminar on the Sonnets. Participants will stay in the four star San Domenico Hotel, a converted 14th Century monastery which stands in Urbino’s main square, between the Cathedral and the University, directly in front of the early 15th century Palazzo Ducale – one of the most refined and elegant palaces in Italy.

The summer school, which aims to appeal to a wide range of Shakespeare enthusiasts, students and teachers, is directed by Shakespeare in Italy, a cultural association formed by Julian Curry and Mary Chater, in partnership with theatre manager Sandro Pascucci. Many theatregoers and Shakespearians will know Julian and Mary, who have lived in central Italy since 2007, from their numerous appearances with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, and in the West End. The aim of Shakespeare in Italy is to promote and perform Shakespeare’s plays in their original language in the country that was such an inspiration to their author – no fewer than thirteen of the plays are actually set wholly or partly in Italy.

To complement and enrich the summer school’s programme of lectures, discussions, practical work and screenings of contrasting productions, Mary, who is also a teacher and a Blue Badge Guide, will lead a varied programme of cultural events in and around Urbino. The city is a World Heritage Site and the region’s historic theatres are gems of period design & architecture. There are plans for the Summer School to visit some of them – and to rehearse scenes onstage.

For further details of the Summer School programme, accommodation and prices, please visit the homepage of the Shakespeare in Italy website or email Mary Chater at For more on the approaches that Josie Lawrence, Bill Alexander, Michael Pennington and Martin Best will take to the texts, visit the British Shakespeare Association’s Education Network.’

submitted by James Stredder, Stratford-upon-Avon.

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