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'Staging these plays has been revealing in ways I never imagined'

Nov. 6, 2013

Terri Bourus came to the IUPUI School of Liberal Arts in 2007 to develop a degreed theater program.

After three years and five successful international acting residencies on campus, the associate professor of English drama was asked to direct the New Oxford Shakespeare project, connecting IUPUI to Oxford University Press, the world’s leading academic publisher.

Terri Bourus.

Bourus is one of three general editors of the "Complete Works of William Shakespeare," a global Shakespeare initiative that has already captured the attention of major scholars and theater practitioners. | Photo By Erik Markov

Bourus is one of three general editors of the "Complete Works of William Shakespeare," a global Shakespeare initiative that has already captured the attention of major scholars and theater practitioners three years ahead of its projected publication date of 2016.

In 2010, Bourus founded Hoosier Bard Productions, the theatrical arm of the New Oxford Shakespeare project, launching the only theater company connected to the campus.

Collaborating with lead general editor Gary Taylor and on-site associate editors Rory Loughnane and Anna Pruitt, Bourus tests editorial theories about problematic Shakespeare plays by placing them in the environment they were designed for: the stage.

So far, Bourus has directed "Young Hamlet," based on the earliest version of the play; "The History of Cardenio," a reconstruction of the so-called “lost” Shakespeare-Fletcher play, based on Don Quixote; and two versions of "Measure for Measure," Shakespeare’s original and Middleton’s adaptation.

“Theater is a form of research, and the collaborative nature of Shakespeare’s multimedia art has become a hotly debated, fruitful topic at the center of editorial research,” Bourus said.

“Staging these plays has been revealing in ways I never imagined -- they illuminate Shakespeare’s working creative interaction with actors, musicians and other playwrights in early modern London.”

Bourus’ and Taylor’s book, "The Creation and Recreation of ‘Cardenio,’" includes an analysis of her experience directing the play and will be published this month by Palgrave Macmillan. Their analysis of the "Measure" experiment -- “Performance-Testing the Adaptation Hypothesis” -- has just been accepted by Shakespeare, the journal of the British Shakespeare Association, and will be published later this year.

Meanwhile, Bourus is already meeting with leading scholars in London, Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon, planning the next phases of the project that is making theater an essential component of the research mission of IUPUI.

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