Thursday, February 27, 2014

Shakespeare in Italy association offers summer school in Urbino July 12-26, 2014

Albergo San Domenico in Urbino, Italy

by Linda Theil

A new, not-for-profit cultural association called Shakespeare in Italy announced this month that it will conduct a residential summer school in association with Urbino University during July 12-26, 2014. Participants will reside in the Albergo San Domenico, a sixteenth century religious complex in the main square of Urbino, Italy. The cost of the program is €1965 and the deadline for application is April 30, 2014.

Association marketing director Rachel Kruger Hoath said:
The course is aimed at anyone with a passion for Shakespeare and Italy, young or old. The company has been set up by the actor Julian Curry (Erskine-Brown in Rumpole of the Bailey) and his wife Mary Chater. The leaders will be directors and actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company, including RSC associate director Bill Alexander.
Background material on the association’s webpage described the program:
The summer school . . . aims to deepen participants’ understanding of the plays [Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado about Nothing, and Merchant of Venice], to stimulate a sense of the Italian settings and culture which Shakespeare draws upon and to provide varied and flexible approaches to exploring the text. In all cases there will be a mix of expert input, practical work on scenes, discussions, and evaluations of contrasting film versions of the plays.
. . . The structure of the summer school is modular and consecutive. Each play will be studied for three days. . . . On the fourth day, after each module, there will be an event organized by [association co-founder] Mary Chater, who is a qualified Blue Badge Tour Guide. These events may be musical, artistic, architectural, or gastronomic.
This Shakespeare in Italy association seems tailor-made for the study of Richard Paul Roe's lifework, The Shakespeare Guide to Italy (Harper, 2011) wherein Roe details the relationship between Shakespeare’s Italian plays and the realities of Italian culture and landscape, so we asked Ms Kruger Hoath if the association is receptive to Roe’s work and its attendant consequences for the Shakespeare authorship inquiry:
Oberon: . . . it seems that your summer experience is focused on performance, but I wonder if you might send me a quote from one of your principals speaking to the issue of the Shakespeare authorship so that I may let our readers know whether their interest in the authorship question would be welcomed by your organization, should our readers choose to attend your summer school.
Shakespeare in Italy co-founder Julian Curry replied:
You're right that our summer course will be focused mainly on texts and performance, and we will not be dealing with the authorship question in the formal teaching sessions. Nonetheless there may well be informal discussion of it outside class time. The four tutors all have wide experience of matters Shakespearean in the broadest sense, and if any of them wish to cover biographical issues as part of their teaching, that will be absolutely fine. I read R.P.Roe's book recently and enjoyed it a lot. I expect you know that the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust website is also very useful.
. . . Bill Alexander [who will be leading the summer school's Merchant of Venice module said] he'd be happy to engage with the authorship question at some point during his time, although it would not be the main focus of his teaching sessions. Maybe a session with a panel of us in a Q&A on the issue, he suggests.
When asked if visits to sites detailed in Roe's book might be part of the "fourth day", summer-school adventures, Curry said:
I'm afraid it's unlikely that we'll be visiting sites from Roe's book. At one stage we thought about including a trip to Venice, Verona or Padua. However they are all 3-4 hours drive away, which we decided is too far. There are excellent places to visit much closer to Urbino. However if anyone wants to make such a trip under their own steam, we'd be happy to help them to arrange it.
Curry told us that Urbino University will give credit for attendance and validate the standard of the course, with no assessment involved. He indicated credit for independent study might also be arranged.

For information about the program, visit the Shakespeare in Italy website, or contact Rachel Hoath at For an application to the Shakespeare in Italy summer school, contact Mary Chater at