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2023 BSA Innovation Award: Robert Myles

The BSA is delighted to announce that the winner of the 2023 BSA Innovation Award is Robert Myles. The Innovation Award was launched in 2022 to celebrate innovative creative work of an individual or organisation involved in Shakespearean studies, performance, and/or the cultural and creative industries. The winner will have substantially innovated our engagement with and appreciation of the dramatist and his works.

During lockdown, Robert Myles assembled a diverse community of creatives to perform all of Shakespeare’s plays, dubbed The Show Must Go Online, helping to set the agenda for online digital Shakespeare. Central to his practice is a sense of the need for actors to embody and ‘own’ Shakespeare’s words to convey meaning. What makes Rob’s approach unique is his detailed understanding of the nuances of Shakespeare’s language. An attentiveness to text is central to his creative practice: his insights offer novel approaches that challenge orthodoxies in Shakespeare performance, asking us to return to the plays afresh.

His sensitivity to ways of using digital platforms to engage new audiences and his commitment to embedding EDI into everything he does is exemplary. Rob’s work on The Show Must Go Online has had lasting impact as evidenced by citation in Shakespearean scholarship. This year, the Stratford Festival (Ontario, Canada) launched Illuminated Text on its Stratfest@Home platform to enhance its education provision. Developed by Rob, Illuminated Text combines street art, animation and contemporary music to form an interactive experience that introduces new audiences to Shakespeare. Users self-guide, engaging with four key aspects of Shakespeare’s writing: rhythm, rhetoric, sound, and imagery. The session concludes with a virtual workshop with street artist and calligrapher Alice Mazzilli where participants are invited to create a visual interpretation of their own piece of text.

With funding from Theatre Royal Bath, Rob is also exploring how performers can interact across geographically distinct spaces in live performance, marrying the flexibility of online digital theatre with the experience of site-specific performance. Rob has always been an innovator, always attracted to new ways of making Shakespeare more accessible and Illuminated Text is a brilliant way to bring Shakespeare to all, produced in a professional, clever and engrossing way that will appeal to Shakespeare aficionados and novices alike. His ongoing projects (including a podcast with leading actors) show a continued commitment to innovative practice, diversity and inclusion, and to bringing Shakespeare to new audiences.

Photo credit: cursetheseeyes.

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