Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Shakespeare: Staging the World: how the British Museum's superb exhibition catalogue brought the Bard to life - Telegraph

Shakespeare: Staging the World: how the British Museum's superb exhibition catalogue brought the Bard to life - Telegraph

Portrait of Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud ben Mohammed Anoun, ambassador to England from the King of Barbary (Morocco), unknown artist, England, c. 1600. Photo: Oil on panel. © Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon (University of Birmingham) 
Shakespeare: Staging the World, a new exhibition that uses both artefacts and film to immerse you in the playwright's life and times, opened this week at the British Museum. Not only is the exhibition winning acclaim from the critics, but its catalogue has proved an impressive work of Shakespeare scholarship in itself. Writing in his five-star review earlier this week, Richard Dorment, the Telegraph's chief art critic, said that the exhibition was “one of the best I’ve ever seen” – and that the 304-page book, which features 275 colour illustrations, was “well worth reading for its own sake … once you start you won’t be able to stop.”

Here the book's co-author Dora Thornton, who curated the show along with Jonathan Bate and Becky Allen, writes about the year-long process of bringing it to life.

"What we are attempting in this book – which has been a richly rewarding collaboration between the Shakespearean scholar, Professor Jonathan Bate, and myself – is a series of case studies of some of Shakespeare’s places of imagination.
Although it is intended to underpin the British Museum exhibition, Shakespeare: Staging the World, the book is not an exhibition catalogue, but the product of a substantial body of research in its own right. Book and exhibition mirror one another; in both we feel our way between texts and objects. It was Jonathan’s brilliant idea to structure the book and the exhibition around Shakespeare’s imagined places as an inherently theatrical concept which also takes us neatly through the known chronology of Shakespeare’s plays. Once we had agreed our locations, my task as curator of the exhibition was to people those places and find their distinctive atmosphere. READ WHOLE ARTICLE...
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