Shakespeare fans from far and near gathered, debated theories, and shared their love of the writer’s many works at the University of La Verne for the campus’ first Shakespeare conference last Saturday.
The event, organized by Professor of English Jeffrey Kahan, was an inaugural event that brought together nearly 100 attendees.
“We’re creating a Shakespeare center and this is a way of launching the center and letting the academics and artistic companies in the area know of our existence,” Kahan said. “We’re attempting to do more than just a conference.”
The conference opened up with a few participants reading their excerpts on their respective topics followed by a question and answer portion where theories and ideas were debated and discussed in depth.
Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, Eric Mallin, read his piece, “Perverse Portia,” that ignited a heavy series of questions where the audience debated over the idea of perversity and blood.
“Even though I was already familiar with the topic, it was interesting to hear them talk about Portia’s legalistic logic about the pound of flesh,” Jeanette Baugh, teacher at Los Osos High School, said.
Baugh attended the event with her husband, a teacher at Rubidoux High School where they both teach Shakespeare.
“It has been interesting to get everyone’s perspective on Shakespeare,” Baugh said. “I can’t wait to find out what else I’m going to learn to take back to my students.”
Mallin was able to use the earlier discussions on other papers to add to his own.
“The question and answer portion was very helpful in helping me explain my paper and for my future work and thoughts about my project,” Mallin said.
Not only was this La Verne’s first Shakespeare Conference but Mallin’s first as well.
“Professor Kahan has done a very good job organizing the event and getting a bunch of good people to come,” Mallin said.
As the day progressed to evening, more people trickled in to join the other festivities. The film, “The Merchant of Venice,” was shown in the Arts and Communications screening room, followed by a panel discussion.
The conference closed up the night with the production of “The Merchant of Venice” by ULV’s department of theater that brought in a full house.
Kahan has been prepping for the conference since November of last year. He also hopes to use the conference as a launch pad to reach out to different high schools in the area to start another program.
“We want to partner with high schools to practice a Shakespeare class and we’re also working with local theater companies to bring them both into La Verne to perform here,” Kahan said.
“We hope in the coming months and years to build it into a go to place for all things Shakespeare in Southern California,” Kahan said.
Kahan hopes to network with companies as recruitment tools for students so that they will have jobs when they graduate as well as make the conference an annual event for ULV.
Monica Dien can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.