The history of Shakespearean theatre in Newfoundland and Labrador dates back to the 19th century. This history includes companies that toured here for decades from overseas; local
professional and amateur performance from the 1940s to the 1980s, including provincial drama festival and Newfoundland Shakespeare Company productions; and a generation of theatre artists trained at Memorial University who developed approaches to Shakespearean theatre in the 1990s which evolved into the tradition of summer festival performance that is now a vital part of the province’s tourist economy. Except for two articles, this history has been largely neglected, despite the rich material it provides for studying the province’s culture in its local dimensions, its relation to international theatrical practice, and post-secondary institutions’ roles in developing artistic talent.
This project aimed to increase public awareness and academic interest in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Shakespearean history through several public outreach activities that will be concluded by April 2018. Partnering with the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre (ACC), Perchance Theatre, Newfoundland Quarterly, and the Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Library, this project included the following: a public lecture in the “Check It Out” series at the QEII Library; a two-day symposium of academics, theatre practitioners, archivists, and librarians on Shakespeare in Newfoundland and Labrador at Memorial’s St. John’s campus; three exhibits of artefacts related to Newfoundland and Labrador Shakespeare (at the Centre for Newfoundland Studies; in the student lounge of the QEII Library; and at the St. John’s ACC); articles for Newfoundland Quarterly and bloggingshakespeare.com; student involvement in the project through archival work and presentations; and an open-access electronic exhibition catalogue to be housed on the QEII’s Digital Arts Initiative website.