As part of the University’s collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company, students studying at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon have the opportunity to take part in a unique MA Research Week. 

This year, students had the chance to work with RSC Director, Iqbal Khan, to explore the provocation “What is a modern History Play?”

The workshop, which ran during the Spring Reading week at The Other Place Theatre, explored themes such as why do we write historical plays?; who buys the tickets and why?; which stories are richest?; what characters attract us and whose/what perspective do we take?

Students looked at recent examples of ‘historical’ plays that have gripped audiences and critics and heard from writers about their ambitions and the development from initial drafts to the input of directors and company. Students looked at the form these pieces can take, their register and range of theatrical vocabulary.

During the creative workshops, students developed play scripts based on historical figures of their own choosing and participated in a sharing at the end of the week which was attended by RSC and University of Birmingham staff and students.

Speaking after the workshop, students expressed their delight to work with Iqbal. MA Shakespeare and Theatre student, Jayne Bridges commented “It was an absolutely fantastic week and it was such a privilege to not just work with a renowned director but someone who was so inclusive and made all of us feel valuable.”

Bronwyn Barnwell of the MA Shakespeare and Creativity programme was also impressed with Iqbal’s approach to the week “Iqbal took the time to get to know each of us. I’ve never felt so valued and seen in the way that I did.”

Fellow MA Shakespeare and Creativity student, Rebecca Lawton, added “He was so wonderful and he really wanted do get to know us and really look in to our minds. He was so invested in each and every one of our stories.”

Students attending an RSC workshop

Now in its fourth year, the University of Birmingham is engaged in an exciting five-year collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at The Other Place. This pioneering project has seen the reinstatement of the iconic RSC studio theatre, The Other Place. Opened in 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, The Other Place is the RSC’s creative hub for rehearsal, training, learning and research. The MA Research week is just one of the ways in which students benefit from this exciting collaboration.

Please note: this opportunity varies in timing, provocation and practitioner each year and is subject to change in the academic year 2020/21.