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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.

Announcement: BSA Annual General Meeting and Awards Ceremony, 19th November, 4:00-6:30pm (online)

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the British Shakespeare Association will take place at 4:00pm on Saturday 19th November and will be followed by the BSA’s Awards Ceremony at 5:00pm. BSA members are invited to register for the event via the form in their ‘Member’s Dashboard’ (accessible by logging in to your BSA account and clicking on the ‘AGM registration’ button’.

Honorary Fellows Awards

The British Shakespeare Association is delighted to announce that our Honorary Fellows for 2022 are Gregory Doran and Professor Emerita Lois Potter.  

It would not be an exaggeration to call Gregory Doran a giant of Shakespeare performance. The Artistic Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company since 2012, he has continually evolved the theatre through innovative staging, including his trailblazing production of The Tempest. His work has been nominated for many awards, including an Emmy and BAFTA award for his 2009 TV movie of Hamlet, which brought an exceptional performance to households all over Britain.

Lois Potter, meanwhile, over a career spanning six decades and three continents, has been a lodestar in the study of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Her books on Twelfth Night and Othello serve as true models of performance-oriented criticism, but it is likely for her majestic critical biography, The Life of William Shakespeare, that she is best known, a book which showcases the very best of Potter’s absorbing, accessible, and rigorous scholarship.

Innovation Award

We are also pleased to share that we have instituted a brand new award, the Innovation Award. The BSA Innovation Award will be awarded annually to 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. And we are delighted to share that our inaugural winner is Creation Theatre.

From the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, their executive director, Lucy Askew, has led Creation through an innovative transformation from site-specific performance to digital performance. Their interactive production of Romeo and Juliet was a notable triumph in this form, as it took place in an expansive digital universe and positioned the audience into an active relationship with the ‘onstage’ action. Creation Theatre’s innovative approaches and development of digital theatre techniques made possible new and exciting ways of producing and experiencing theatre online.

All our winners will be honoured at a virtual ceremony that begins at 5:00pm following our online AGM on 19th November, 2022.

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