Shakespeare in Yosemite

Applied Theatre in a National Park

in Critical Survey
Author:
Katherine Steele BrokawUniversity of California, Merced

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Paul PrescottUniversity of Warwick

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Abstract

Shakespeare in Yosemite, founded in 2017, consists of an annual outdoor production of Shakespeare in Yosemite National Park on the weekend closest to World Earth Day and Shakespeare's birthday. The productions are site-specific and heavily adapted for a general audience; admission is free. In this article, the co-founders describe the origins and aims of the festival within the contexts of applied theatre, eco-criticism and the American tradition of free outdoor Shakespeare. In describing the festival's inaugural show – a collage piece that counterpointed Shakespeare's words with those of early environmentalist John Muir – we make the case for leveraging Shakespeare's cultural currency to play a part (however small or unknowable) in encouraging environmental awareness and activism.

Contributor Notes

Katherine Steele Brokaw is Associate Professor of English at University of California, Merced. She is author of Staging Harmony: Music and Religious Change in Medieval and Early Modern English Drama (Cornell, 2016), co-editor of Sacred and Secular Transactions in the Age of Shakespeare (Northwestern, 2019) and editor of the Arden Performance Edition of Macbeth (Arden, 2019). She has acted, directed and adapted Shakespeare in a number of communities in the USA and Europe, and is currently writing a book on Shakespeare and community performance.

Paul Prescott is Reader in English at the University of Warwick and has acted, adapted and taught Shakespeare in a range of countries and contexts. He is the author of Reviewing Shakespeare: Journalism and Performance from the Eighteenth Century to the Present (Cambridge, 2013), a critical biography of Sam Wanamaker for the Great Shakespeareans series (Bloomsbury, 2013) and, as co-editor and contributor, A Year of Shakespeare: Reliving the World Shakespeare Festival (Arden, 2013) and Shakespeare on the Global Stage: Performance and Festivity in the Olympic Year (Arden, 2015).

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