‘The cause’: recreating historical accuracy

A former British Cabinet Secretary and an expert on the Globe Theatre will discuss Shakespeare and Wake Forest’s Ronald Watkins Collection – an extensive collection of books, papers and lectures on the Globe Theatre — during a discussion on Jan. 21.

Lord Robin Butler will speak at 3 p.m. in the Rare Books Room in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library. His talk is free and open to the public. He is a Master of University College, Oxford, and a former Cabinet Secretary under Prime Ministers Edward Heath, Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair.

Lord Butler and Provost Emeritus and Professor of English Edwin G. Wilson (’43) will discuss Shakespeare, the Globe Theatre and the significance of the Watkins collection. Lord Butler is a former student of Watkins, a Shakespeare scholar.

“I was a pupil of Ronald Watkins and acted in four plays on the Harrow Globe stage under his direction and I have been a trustee for the London Shakespeare’s Globe,” Butler said. “At Wake, I should love to spend some time talking about the Shakespeare Globe Theatre and the use being made of the archive of my revered old teacher, Ronald Watkins, which has been deposited there.”

Earlier in the day, Lord Butler will discuss “Iraq: Why did the intelligence go so horribly wrong?” at a noon luncheon for faculty across campus in the Worrell Professional Center; that luncheon is not open to the public. Lord Butler and his wife, Lady Butler, became friends with School of Law Dean Blake Morant and his wife, P.J., when Morant was on a visiting fellowship at University College, Oxford.

Watkins donated his collection of papers and other works on Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre to the Z. Smith Reynolds Library in 1999 because of his friendship with James Dodding, now retired professor of theatre. The collection includes Watkins’ personal correspondence, extensively annotated prompt books and other production notes, lecture notes, drafts of books and articles, art work, reviews and other clippings, photographs, sound recordings, and personal memorabilia.

Watkins taught for many years at Harrow School, where he produced Shakespeare plays with student actors on a stage modeled after the Globe Theatre. In his stage productions, lectures and writings, Watkins argued for the primacy of language in Shakespeare’s plays and attempted to discover and replicate how Shakespeare himself staged and produced the plays. His primary focus, “The Cause” as he called it throughout his career, was to recreate Shakespeare’s plays in the way Shakespeare himself would have presented them in Elizabethan England.

Categories: Arts & Culture, Provost