Study Days

OUSS Study Day flyer 2018

Study Day 2018: Saturday 19 May in Stratford-upon-Avon

This is a report of the 2017 Study Day by Angie:

The morning session’s topic was The Roman World, with our Patron Viv Thomas as lecturer. As usual Viv was like a tornado, taking us on a whirlwind ride through the plays, full of quotes and inspiring us with his enthusiasm and knowledge.

He began by saying that Shakespeare’s characters inhabit every niche, from garrulous to introspective- we get songs, narrations, critiques confessions, the list is endless .In his speeches we get the lyrical, the vituperative, confessional, caustic, acerbic, analytical, hyperbolic, mockery, assertive, questioning etc.

In Shakespeare’s days everyone went to the theatre, it was not an exclusive place. It could be a disruptive powerful arena. Shakespeare holds a mirror up to cultures. Julius Caesar opened the new Globe and people connected to the set of values. In Antony and Cleopatra we see a clash of cultures. There was a plethora of plays about Rome in Shakespeare’s day, the murder of Caesar was very well- known . Julius Caesar has never been out of fashion. (As one of his many asides, Viv remarked that Shakespeare didn’t use the word assassination in Julius Caesar as he hadn’t invented it until he later wrote Macbeth! ) When Julius Caesar ends there is a sense of continuity as the action continues in Antony and Cleopatra, which makes it more an historical play. In contrast, in the tragedy Hamlet the deaths ends the story.

Viv explored the language and the making of a social universe in the plays. He produced handouts about the sources, language and historical location of the dramas.

We were still reeling from all of this information when it was time for the afternoon session. Nick Wilkes, actor, director, and playwright came to give us a workshop on King John

It was a relaxed, jolly session and Nick began by dividing us into twos and we had to ask our partner questions and then describe what we had learned to the Group. Although a lot of us have known each other for years there were still some interesting facts to learn.

We had to get our voices in trim by saying a tongue twister slowly at first and then more quickly-“The big blue bug bit the big black bear and the big black bear bled blood.” Quite tricky, that!

Nick led a discussion on productions of King John (He played The Bastard at King John’s Tomb in Worcester Cathedral last year) and then we read through a speech from the play, divided it up and each group discussed their extract and then split it and we all did a reading at the end, which Nick recorded and gave to us. It was a very enjoyable day.

Viv Thomas

Nick Wilkes

Study Day 2017: Saturday 20 May in Stratford-upon-Avon

OUSS Study Day flyer 2017

Study Day 2016: Saturday 14 May in Stratford-upon-Avon

with speakers Will Sharpe and Erin Sullivan
The Methodist Church Hall, Stratford-Upon-Avon CV37 6BG

Dr Will Sharpe is a Teaching Fellow at the University of Birmingham and the Shakespeare Institute, where he received his PhD. He works mainly on collaborative authorship and textual studies, most notably the monograph-length essay ‘Authorship and Attribution’ in William Shakespeare and Others: Collaborative Plays, general edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen. He is one of the revising editors to The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare.
Dr Erin Sullivan is a Senior Lecturer and Fellow at the Shakespeare Institute. Her research focuses on the cultural history of the emotions, particularly sadness, and the performance and celebration of Shakespeare today. She is interested in the emotional textures of Shakespeare’s writing and the way they help shape our experience of identity and community, both now and in the past. She is author or co-editor of numerous works on Shakespeare.
9.00am -9.30 Coffee and registration
Morning Session
10.00 Julius Caesar Will Sharpe examines some of the themes in the play, using selected references.
11.00 Break
11.30 As You Like It Erin Sullivan explores some of the issues raised in the play.
12.30 Lunch (not included)
1.00 -2.00pm OUSS AGM – all OUSS members are cordially invited to join us for the Society’s AGM if they wish. This is a crucial meeting as we discuss the future and form of the OUSS.
Afternoon Session
2.00 pm – 4.30 pm Hamlet: Will leads an interactive workshop based on text and scenes from the play. Be prepared to get on your feet and take part! You are advised to bring a text if you have one.

Study Day 2015: Saturday 16 May

Studying The Tempest: Playing the play –a practical workshop
led by Richard Clark

Study Day 2015 11

David, Maggie, Meave, Brian, Dave, Richard Clarke (tutor), Julie, Kay and Martin

Study Day 2015 10

Meave and Brian

Study Day 2015 6

Phillida and Julie

Study Day 2015 8

Charmian and Dave

Study Day 2015 7

Jon and Stella

Study Day 2015 5

Karen and Maggie

Study Day 2015 4

Maureen and Pauline

Study Day 2015 2

Gliding, wringing and body shapes

Study Day 2014:

Subjects: “Imagination and Representation in Text and Performance” with Viv Thomas

“Shakespeare at the Movies” with Amelia Mariette


Viv Thomas, the first speaker on the Study Day 2014

Study Day 2013:

Leon Winston 2013

Leon Winston

Study Day 2012:

Subject: “Long Live the King” with Alicia Smith Howard, Andrew Jarvis and Giles Terera


Study Day 2011:

Viv 2011

Viv Thomas

Study Day 2010:

Subject: “Gender Representation in Late Plays and Tragedies” with Dr Catherine Alexander and Robert Ball

2010 Study day

Study Day 2009:

Subjects: “Lovely Boy Sonnets” with Lord Gawain Douglas

and a Richard II workshop with Miles Richardson

Lord Gawain Douglas on the sonnets 2009

Lord Gawain Douglas discussing the Sonnets

Miles Richardson 2009

The actor Miles Richardson

Study Day 2008:

Subject: “From Page to Stage” with Leon Winston

Study Day 2007:

Subject: “The Course of True Love” with Ben Spiller from the 1623 Company

Study Day 2006:

Subject: “Passion, Sex and Misogyny in Shakespeare’s Plays” with Viv Thomas

Study Day 2005:

Subject: “Getting Shakespeare’s Macbeth into Action” with Richard Clarke

Richard clark doing Macbeth 2005

Richard Clark, performing Macbeth

dame Judi

Dame Judi Dench and Angie Pulford with a copy of the Groat in 2005

Study Day 2004:

2004 VIv

Viv Thomas

Study Day 1999:

Rich Mccabe

The actor Richard McCabe who played Iago in Othello at the RSC

Rich McCabe 2

Open University Shakespeare Society