The Malone Society is proud to host its 2019 conference at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon on Saturday 6 July. This year we focus on Philip Massinger’s powerful creation, The Roman Actor. The play, which premiered in 1626, is one of Massinger’s crucial achievements as a dramatist, a piece full of dark humour and metatheatrical excess.
‘Times are hard for the actors of Rome: audiences are not coming to the theatres. Times are hard too for Rome as a whole under the lustful, suspicious tyrant Domitian: oppositional voices tend to be silenced by execution. The actor Paris is summoned before the Senate, accused of presenting political libels in drama; but he eloquently defends his profession, and the Emperor’s triumphant return to Rome pre-empts the prosecution.’ (Martin Wiggins, British Drama 1533-1642: A Catalogue [Oxford, 2012-2020], vol. VIII, #2190, p. 216.) Thus starts a riveting play full of deceit, betrayal, hystrionics, and murder.
The conference, which will take place in the beautiful mock-Elizabethan Hall of the Shakespeare Institute, will start with an introductory lecture given by Dr Martin Wiggins, followed by a performance of the play with an ensemble directed by Charles Morton. The afternoon session will include a panel discussion and a Q&A with the cast.
9:30am – Registration. Tea, coffee, and biscuits in the Institute conservatory.
10am – Martin Wiggins (The Shakespeare Institute) introduces the play.
11am – Performance of The Roman Actor.
1:30pm – lunch (own arrangements)
2:30pm – panel discussion with papers from Lucy Clark (University of Oxford), Charles Morton (Birmingham City University), and Jodie Smith (The Shakespeare Institute).
4pm – Q&A with members of the cast
5pm – finish