17 July 2006

The VIII World Shakespeare Congress opened in Brisbane in spectacular style on Sunday, July 16, heralding six days of discussion and performance centered on the Bard.

Hundreds of Australian and international delegates in Brisbane City Hall were treated to an explosive rendition of scenes from Macbeth by Brisbane theatre troupe Zen Zen Zo, and an evocative ‘welcome to country’ from Jagera Jargum.

The congress, never before held in the southern hemisphere, is hosted by The University of Queensland.

In declaring the congress open, International Shakespeare Association Chair, Professor Jill Levenson, acknowledged two UQ academics who brought it to Queensland: the late Associate Professor Lloyd Davis; and the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and congress Convenor, Professor Richard Fotheringham.

“When Lloyd became terminally ill, Richard took over as sole convenor with more determination than ever to make this congress a success, but also a tribute,” Professor Levenson said.

“The program, in the richness of its offerings, clearly shows that he’s achieved this goal.”

Queensland Minister for Education and Minister for The Arts, Rod Welford, described the congress as “a fabulous opportunity for scholars, performers and teachers to gather and celebrate the works of a remarkable writer and to learn more about Shakespeare’s works and influence”.

“Shakespeare was certainly a master of the English language and a great observer of the human condition.

“Some scholars go so far as to say that Shakespeare ‘invented’ being human,” Mr Welford said.

Brisbane’s Lord Mayor, Campbell Newman, welcomed guests and commended Professor Fotheringham and his team for bringing the congress to Brisbane.

The master of ceremonies, actor, director, dramatist and UQ Adjunct Professor, Bille Brown, told the audience that he began a lifelong friendship with the Bard when Shakespearean players visited his boyhood town, Biloela in central Queensland.

The VIII World Shakespeare Congress runs until Friday, July 21, at Brisbane City Hall. For more information: www.shakespeare2006.net.

Media contact: Fiona Kennedy 3365 1088 / 0413 380 012.