Posted by: admin October 5th, 2015


Description of the 2015 Summer School.

Professor Giuseppe Giliberti of the University of Urbino invited Shakespeare in Italy to organize a second 14 day residential Summer School from June 30th - July 14th 2015.
 The programme focused on three of the plays which are set in Italy. The aim was to explore them in depth and their relationship to the huge European cultural wealth that Shakespeare imaginatively drew upon. Course work included lectures, discussions and practical work.

Bill Alexander ran workshops on Othello, the acclaimed director Lucy Bailey on The Taming of the Shrew and the actor Charlotte Cornwell on The Winter's Tale. [Lucy Bailey recently directed The Taming of the Shrew at the Royal Shakespeare Company.]

Schedule: On day 1, participants arrived and settled in with an introductory session and an evening 'welcome' party. [Accommodation was in the Domus wing of the Albergo San Domenico a 4 star hotel and converted monastery in the centre of Urbino opposite the Palazzo Ducale.] The programme was then divided into three modules devoted to each play, under the guidance of its own leader. After each module, there was a break for artistic, architectural and gastronomic adventures.

Urbino is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The centrepiece of the town is the Palazzo Ducale, fabulous creation of Federico, the Duke of Montefeltro in the mid 1400's. It was one of the most refined and elegant palaces in early Renaissance Italy and the setting for Baldassare Castiglione's Book of the Courtier which was a cultural reference point for Shakespeare.

Participants visited Cagli theatre to rehearse scenes from the plays on stage. Trips were held to Assisi to see the Giotto frescoes in the Basilica, to Gubbio and to Fano.


 What I'll be trying to do over my four days is to take the participants through a sort of speeded up version of the rehearsal process. Talk about the play...describe the intended production...analysis of character and meaning leading to the physical side of the production. Explore what happens when modern dress and Renaissance thought meet...and the chemistry between highly poetic language and modern Freudian notions of character and sub text...and the unique Shakespearean meeting place between Naturalism and Magic; or realism and trickery! 

Bill directed Othello during his tenure of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. 

Our Urbino Summer School 2015 was a great success. The participants came from all over the world. Please see some of their comments below: 

I have struggled with my own artistic vision following personal tragedy in my life. Just being in Urbino on the first day and drinking in the history of the place and the beautiful landscape around, then sitting down with one of my 'director heroes' to study Othello I felt at home. In common parlance - I think I have got my mojo back! I cannot thank Shakespeare in Italy, Mary, Julian and Sandro enough. I hope the company continues to thrive. It is a wonderful concept and for those of us who have worked tirelessly to bring theatre to life at grass roots level it is an inspiration.
Collette Parker, UK

We had hard-bard types there—everyone was just eager to learn/experience—very well done; my head was hopping and ready to go daily. I thought the pace was beneficial for learners. I need no time for shopping; I can do that at home. I also enjoyed the variety of ages, genders, ideas.
Patricia Weisman, USA

You could not have chosen a better city. Urbino was absolutely beautiful and I’m glad that we weren’t in Rome or Milan or some major city that would have been overcrowded and downright miserable during tourist season. The restaurants we ate at were spectacular. Be sure to keep those on the list for next year! Thank YOU for running this program. Best vacation I’ve ever had. Emma Day, USA

Bill's session at Cagli theatre had us presenting scenes from the play and that was very successful. It is such a special thing to work on a stage.
Reg Grouse, aged 92 Australia

Your attention to detail and our individual well being was delightful.
Susan Conte, UK

I think everything was arranged perfectly and the environment was both professional and friendly.
Marcello Bessone, Italy

It was an unforgettable, totally stimulating experience which, amongst many other things, has made me look at myself in a different light. Too late for me to apply to RADA, but setting up a play reading group has possibilities! It is a measure of the success of your organisation that such a disparate group of people, from across the world and the age spectrum, came together for two weeks in Italy and bonded with such energy and humour.
Jenny Robson, UK

The course was above and beyond my expectations. Bill is the most outstanding teacher. No one is better. Clear, knowledgeable, expert, living treasure. He encourages individuals to learn in their own way. He is inspirational. Having three wonderful teachers was outstanding. But having the group so intelligent and with so much life experience was an unexpected bonus. I loved the friendly, caring family atmosphere. It was a life changing two weeks for me and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Lyn Pierse, Australia