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Many happy returns to Globe MA, aged 10

Behind the Scenes at Shakespeare's Globe

With so much going on at the Globe just now and the excitement about its sparky new education building which opens later this term it would easy to overlook another quiet education achievement on Bankside.

For ten years - they’re having a little birthday party next week - The Globe has been running an MA called Shakespeare Studies: Text and Playhouse, in partnership with King’s College London.

Abigail Rokison, now a lecturer in English, Drama & Education at University of Cambridge, is one of its graduates. “The King’s/ Globe MA made an immeasurable difference to my career and my life,” she says, adding that it was also one of the happiest years she has spent. “I went on to do PhD in Cambridge which was an extension of the work that I had begun at King’s/ The Globe and which resulted in my first publication for Cambridge University Press, Shakespearean Verse Speaking. I now lecture at Cambridge in English, Drama and Education and often find myself passing on gems that I gained from the wonderful lecturers and workshop leaders who contributed to the MA.”

The course focuses on the strong tradition of Shakespeare and early modern literary studies at King’s, but benefits from the theatrical and leading educational environment at Shakespeare’s Globe. A pretty powerful combination.

Students explore aspects of early modern drama within the historical context of the London theatre industry with lots of attention on the design, architecture and operations of the Elizabethan playhouse. Equally, the course uncovers the structure and order of the theatre companies and their repertories. The new Globe playhouse, as the primary learning tool, provides the students with some insights into how plays were commissioned, cast, licensed, rehearsed, performed and printed.

Lectures, seminars and practical workshops on the Globe stage are the main teaching methods. And there’s a Research Methods course taught jointly by faculty members from King’s and the Globe in which students learn about the resources and techniques appropriate to postgraduate study of Shakespeare’s plays, including textual, bibliographical and critical theory.

Unusually - and I’d love to do some of this - the course also provides an introduction to early modern paleography. That allows students to read sixteenth and early seventeenth-century manuscripts and introduces them to early modern printing practices using the Globe’s replica hand-press to teach the techniques of printing which have shaped the Shakespeare texts that have come down to us.

Happy birthday Shakespeare Studies: Text and Playhouse. May the next ten years be as productive.

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