Shakespeare background and bibliography


Most devotees of Shakespeare’s plays agree that there are different layers to each of the plays. There are startling action scenes and plots suitable for an audience of raucous, semi-literate or literate attendees. There is clever dialogue for the literate and powerful members of society that conveys a deeper and sometimes double meaning. Current events, and insights as to what goes on in court, are subtly delivered by actors to an inquiring but wisely secretive nobility. 

The profit motive was a driver behind the appearance of theatre as a novel mass good, which partly owed its permission to operate to the English schism from the Catholic Church with its heavily scripted mystery plays. The embrace of protestantism was an equivocating and often bloody transition to a new socio-cultural order.  Yet there is not much evidence of a doctrinal, religious and coercive ideology in Shakepeare’s plays. Instead there is a shift, a focus on characters and their dilemmas in often brutal scenarios. Some argue that the Shakespeare corpus of plays, in particular the history plays, helped to develop a “national sentiment” as an early prelude to a nation state. But if so, this was not heavily deliberate, as the literary outburst was profoundly distant from propaganda as we might know it from more recent times.  

It is in its contributions to the development of the English language that the Shakespeare collection inspires awe among all lovers of spoken and written words. Early modern English had already been undergoing a transformation due to encounters with other peoples through exploration, trade, diplomacy, war and colonization. Knowledge of the physical and social sciences was expanding, but the vocabulary and structure needed to convey ideas was lacking. The contribution of the Shakespearean creative genius was to find ways to invent and adopt words and phrases from other languages, while also conveying these new concepts in prose and verse to achieve different effects, and communicate with distinct audiences simultaneously.


(Being assembled)


Meg Barker

The founder of OLI-works, Meg Barker, is animating this workshop. Meg’s early, extramural training was in youth acting at the Manitoba School for the Arts, Winnipeg, Canada for four years. A move to British Columbia meant a switch to five years of high school drama instruction by an exceptional teacher, Mr. Ian Midler, and performance of youth plays around the Okanagan Valley. However when choices had to be made for university, Meg pursued a career in the natural sciences, social sciences, public policy and international affairs. More about her usual professional background is here.

Meg continues to find startling and clairvoyant insights into the worlds of science, public policy and international intrigue in certain artistic and literary works, but such writers and producers are often not in the mainstream, and the women’s lens is frequently missing.  To help remedy this, she has volunteered as a Board Member and is currently a subscribing member of the International Centre of Women Playwrights. She is also a supporting member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada

Jade DeBrick

Jade Debrick is from a small town in England, a little more then a stone’s throw away from William Shakespeare’s birthplace. Her interest in the dramatic arts began when she graduated to Queensbury Upper School where she studied drama for five years. In addition to her regular intramural studies, she participated in the after-school drama club at Queensbury. Outside of school she was a member of her town’s youth theatre company named the Little Theatre.

With this comprehensive training and exposure Jade was able to learn a rich variety of dramatic skills, including stage performance as part of a cast, solo performance, directing, improvisation, script writing, basic stage combat and costume and set design.

The works of Shakespeare surrounded Jade in her country of origin. As part of her studies, she had the privilege to visit the famous Globe Theatre in London to watch a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and also went to Stratford upon Avon with the theatre company — this time as a holiday excursion — to see another performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but in this instance it was performed in six different languages. Jade has also had a role in The Tempest for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s schools programme.

When hard choices had to be made for university studies, Jade decided to pursue her interest in psychology. She attended the University of Derby where she took a joint Psychology and Criminology degree. Later Jade attended Buckinghamshire New University to further develop her psychology knowledge. For her subsequent profession, Jade became a support worker for people with epilepsy and learning disabilities.

Drama comprises one of many of Jade’s interests outside of her job. A new resident in Canada, she is trying her hand in different activities. She plans to attend theatre productions as always, and is pleased to explore her skills in voice acting and on-line facilitating with OLI-works.