ArtsUNC Charlotte

Shakespeare Illuminated: Dr. Rob Conkie’s Theatrical Odyssey At Charlotte

In the transformative realm of Shakespearean studies, Dr. Rob Conkie, the recently anointed Robinson Distinguished Professor of Shakespeare Studies in the UNC Charlotte Department of Theatre, took the stage in a groundbreaking international project that resonates far beyond the footlights. Entitled “Cymbeline in the Anthropocene,” the project summoned seven distinct productions of Shakespeare’s play on a global scale, with Conkie’s directorial prowess leaving an indelible mark at LaTrobe University in Melbourne, Australia.

Amidst the project’s launch, as both Australia and California grappled with colossal climate-aggravated fires, Conkie’s vision of Cymbeline took an arresting turn, with the elemental force of fire assuming a central role in his rendition. The flames that raged on distant horizons mirrored the urgency of the climate crisis, infusing his production with an undeniably visceral resonance.

Now, Conkie, along with a cadre of student actors and esteemed faculty colleagues, seeks to dissect the intricacies of his avant-garde production and, more broadly, the artistic terrain of grappling with the climate crisis. In a departure from conventional post-production analyses, Conkie is set to present his reflections in a distinctive format—a performative comic book.

This graphic novella-esque rendering of his Cymbeline production, accompanied by insightful reflections and analyses, becomes a dynamic visual artifact. Conkie will unveil this unique creation, projecting its pages while himself and the actors lend their voices to narrate and embody the characters, unraveling the story and pondering its resonances. The unfolding of this narrative transpires in three riveting one-hour episodes, with Part 2 scheduled for December 5 and Part 3 slated to conclude the series next semester.

Each installment of “Shakespeare on Fire” promises a captivating fusion of thespian readings and illuminating discussions, inviting the audience into the vivid intersection of literature and environmental urgency. Dr. Rob Conkie’s unconventional exploration of Shakespeare in the Anthropocene emerges as a testament to the power of art to reflect and reckon with the pressing issues of our time.

Shakespeare on Fire, Part 1, Beginnings

November 28, 2023 – 6:00 PM

Lambla Gallery, Storrs Hall

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