More Matter for a May Morning – University continues its celebration of Shakespeare.

Posted on 21st April 2016

The University of Chester’s Shakespeare@400 season, marking the quadricentennial commemoration of his death, continues next month with a series of talks connected with the Bard.

The institution’s Department of English is hosting the series, entitled ‘More matter for a May morning’. This will include a talk by University of Chester alumna Dr Elizabeth Dollimore, the Outreach and Primary Learning Manager at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon, and a presentation by Tiffany Stern, Professor of Early Modern Drama at the University of Oxford.

The talks, which are free, will take place throughout May, and the venue for each one will be the Vicarage Lecture Theatre, in the Old Vicarage, on the Parkgate Road Campus.

Dr Dollimore will open the series, with her presentation ‘What we do and don’t know about Shakespeare’ on Wednesday, May 4. As well as leading the Primary and Outreach programmes at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Dr Dollimore also teaches students from the age of 13 up to postgraduates about Shakespeare's life, work and times. Her biggest outreach project, Shakespeare Week, has reached 10,000 primary schools and an estimated 1.5 million children! Prior to Dr Dollimore’s public presentation, she has also kindly agreed to give a careers talk and webinar for University students.

On Wednesday, May 11, members of the public, staff and students will have the opportunity to hear Professor Tiffany Stern, from the University of Oxford, present her talk ‘Bitter, Black and Tragical: Early Modern Staging and Shakespeare’. Tiffany Stern is also the author of Rehearsal from Shakespeare to Sheridan (2000), Making Shakespeare (2004), Shakespeare in Parts (with Simon Palfrey, 2007) and Documents of Performance in Early Modern England (2009). She has co-edited a collection of essays with Farah Karim-Cooper, Shakespeare’s Theatres and the Effects of Performance (2013), and has edited King Leir (2001), Sheridan’s The Rivals (2004), Farquhar’s Recruiting Officer (2010), and Brome’s Jovial Crew (2014). She is general editor of New Mermaids and Arden Shakespeare 4, and is currently writing a book on theatre and fairs, and a book on Documents Beyond Performance.

Speaking on Wednesday, May 18, freelance theatre director Amy Bonsall will discuss ‘Shakespeare in Malawi, Romeo and Juliet in Chichewa’. Amy has been the director of a number of very successful touring productions including Romeo and Juliet for Bilimankhwe Arts, which was commissioned by The Shakespeare Birth Place Trust and has been performed in Stratford-upon-Avon. It continues to tour regularly in Malawi. Amy also assisted Dame Janet Suzman on her internationally acclaimed production of Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Company and at The Baxter Theatre, South Africa. More details about Amy can be found at:

Completing the series on Thursday, May 26, is Royal Literary Fund (RLF) Fellow, Basir Sultan Kazmi MBE, who will present ‘My friendship with Shakespeare.’ An internationally renowned poet, Basir is currently at the University of Chester as part of an innovative literary scheme, offering his writing expertise, free of charge, to students and staff, in a scheme funded by the RLF. Basir is a poet in the Pakistani ghazal tradition of his late father, Nasir Kazmi.

Basir studied and taught English at the Government College University Lahore. He came to the UK in 1990. Basir writes poetry and plays in Urdu. His collected works (2015) were launched in Lahore and Bradford. English translations of his poetry and plays have been published in Britain. His plays have appeared at prestigious theatres of Greater Manchester and Liverpool. One of his couplets, with English translation, was carved in stone and installed at McKenzie Square in Slough, UK. Basir has read widely in Britain and abroad. He won a North West Playwrights Workshops Award in 1992. He has been a Literature Adviser to the North West Arts Board. Basir was awarded the MBE in 2013, for Services to Literature as a Poet.

Organiser, Dr Graham Atkin, said: “One of the greatest things about Shakespeare is that he speaks in different ways to different people, so these talks are aimed at everyone from students at school, college or University to individuals with a love of language.

“The overarching title for these four talks, taken from Twelfth Night, is derived from the notion that people could chat about what they have learnt the previous evening over the water cooler the following morning. They will each be around an hour long, with opportunities for questions afterwards. We are looking forward to celebrating the Bard in this very entertaining and educational way.”

The talks are open to everyone. For further details and to book a ticket, please visit: or contact Dr Graham Atkin, Department of English at the University of Chester:

Wednesday, May 4 – 6pm.

Speaker: Dr Elizabeth Dollimore, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Title: ‘What we do and don’t know about Shakespeare.’

Wednesday, May 11 – 6pm.

Speaker: Professor Tiffany Stern, University of Oxford.

Title: ‘Bitter, Black and Tragical: Early Modern Staging and Shakespeare.’

Wednesday, May 18 – 6pm.

Speaker: Amy Bonsall, theatre director.

Title: ‘Shakespeare in Malawi, Romeo and Juliet in Chichewa.’

Thursday, May 26 – 6pm.

Speaker:  Basir Kazmi MBE, Royal Literary Fund Fellow, University of Chester.

Title:  ‘My friendship with Shakespeare.’