Speakers at the "Shakespeare-Tage" 2008

Michael Dobson (Birkbeck College, University of London, UK)

Paper "Lawful as Eating: Food in Shakespearean Performance"

This paper examines the distinctiveness of food as a stage property within the Shakespeare canon, considering in particular certain recurrent moments of on-stage eating which persist in the Anglophone performance tradition despite the absence of any stage directions explicitly calling for them.  Countering those critical approaches which treat the food deployed in Shakespeare either as equivalent to food anywhere else in Elizabethan culture or as symptomatic of Shakespeare's own personal distaste for eating, the paper argues that Shakespeare's onstage meals are conditioned by the real-time placing of theatrical performances in relation to offstage meals, particularly the Elizabethan banquet course.  Its central examples, many of them involving apples, are drawn from 2 Henry IV, Macbeth and, especially, As You Like It.

Joan Fitzpatrick (Loughborough University, UK)

Paper "Apricots, Butter, and Capons: A Shakespearian Lexicon of Food"

This paper will consider in detail Shakespeare's depiction of apricots, butter and capons and how early modern dietary literature might elucidate his treatment of these foods in the plays. The dietaries--prose texts recommending what one should eat and why--played an important part in the cultural life of early modern English people but have received less attention from early modern literary critics than they deserve. As these dietaries show, eating and drinking encoded economic circumstances, social aspirations, national identity, gender, physical health, and self-worth. Reading Shakespeare's drama, specifically his references to food, in the light of dietary literature allows us specific insights and helps elucidate otherwise obscure references. This paper will explore the treatment of apricots in Richard 2 and A Midsummer Night's Dream, butter and butter-women in, amongst other plays, 1 Henry 4 and  As You Like It, and just what Hamlet means when he tells Claudius "I eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons so" (3.2.90-91).

Ludwig Schnauder (University of Vienna, Austria)

Paper "The Bard and the Burg: Der Wiener Shakespeare-Zyklus"

Die Geschichte von Shakespeare und dem Burgtheater geht zurück bis zum Jahr 1772, als – noch vier Jahre vor der formalen Konstituierung als deutsches Nationaltheater – Romeo und Julie, die freie Bearbeitung von Christian Felix Weisse, zur Aufführung kam. Seit dieser Zeit ist Shakespeare nach und nach ein fixer Bestandteil des Repertoires geworden. Seine kaum zu unterschätzende Bedeutung für das Selbstverständnis des Theaters zeigt sich nicht zuletzt darin, dass die Büste des Dichters die Fassade des Prunkbaus an der Ringstraße ziert und dass unter den meistgespielten Stücken überhaupt Hamlet den dritten Platz nach Nathan der Weise und Maria Stuart einnimmt. Vor dem Hintergrund dieser Aufführungstradition untersucht der Vortrag die Bedeutung und die Merkmale des gegenwärtigen Shakespeare-Zyklus, der seit der Intendanz von Ernst Haeusserman in den 60er Jahren, die intensivste Beschäftigung mit dem Dichter darstellt. Klaus Bachler hat durch eine radikale Engführung des Spielplans dem Wiener Publikum in nur zwei Spielzeiten acht Produktionen geboten, die nicht nur einen repräsentativen Querschnitt durch Shakespeares Werk, sondern auch – was die engagierten Regisseure und gewählten Zugänge betrifft - durch die aktuelle Theaterszene darstellen. Ausgehend von Bachlers programmatischem Vortrag bei der Frühjahrstagung der Deutschen Shakespeare-Gesellschaft 2007 werden anhand exemplarischer Produktionen Fragen der Inszenierungsstile, des vermittelten Shakespeare-Bildes, der Übersetzung und der Rezeption diskutiert.

Nicola J. Watson (Open University, UK)

Abstract "A Taste of History: Shakespeare and Culinary Tourism"

This paper aims to put this evening’s celebration of the Birthday with a banquet into the context of the long history of eating in honour of Shakespeare.  Concentrating on the divergent practices that have evolved in Britain and North America from the mid eighteenth century through to the present day, I theorise these as forms of ‘food-theatre’ and relate them to the practices and anxieties of types of literary tourism – the desire to visit places associated with the lives and work of authors, such as Stratford-upon-Avon itself – which were developing at the same time.  Making detailed reference to materials ranging from the minutes and menus of Shakespeare club dinners to heritage ‘Shakespeare’ cookbooks, I explore the ways in which food and Shakespearean text have been related by multiple practices of quotation, arguing that despite their differences they are all designed, like tourism, to enable the diner to occupy the same physical space as ‘Shakespeare’, to taste history by ingesting the text.  I conclude by speculating on the extent to which American concepts of tourist food-theatre have become naturalised to Britain’s heritage industry over the last fifteen years or so.