Recent graduate Audrey Loomis (B.A. 2020) has been selected to present her research at the Utah Shakespeare Festival's Wooden O Symposium this August. The two-day conference is dedicated to in-depth discussion of new ideas found in Shakespeare's work, with this year's theme encouraging submissions that address "Shakespeare, story and adaptation, as well as Shakespeare in times of hardship." Loomis is one of the few undergraduate speakers chosen to present her thesis, entitled "Unsex Me: Exploring Gendered Adaptations in Shakespeare," at the online symposium on August 3-4, 2020.
The Wooden O Symposium encourages scholars of all disciplines to submit papers for discussion each year, typically receiving a large amount of submissions from faculty, graduate and undergraduate students and independent scholars. From these nationwide submissions, around 30 were selected for this year's conference, Loomis's thesis among them. As a speaker, she will have the opportunity to present her work to some of the leading scholars of Medieval through Early Modern studies, as well as attend and join in discussions about her fellow speakers' research.
Loomis's thesis fit the Wooden O's theme perfectly, examining how adaptations have been used to bring new voices out of Shakespeare's work. Her paper was built around interviews she conducted with multiple theatre artists whose works typically address gender in Shakespeare. When speaking about her work, Loomis said, "I wanted to celebrate the inventive, inclusive and empowering artist-lead adaptations that are happening across the country. Shakespeare can and should represent the myriad intersecting identities that exist in our world, but because the plays were originally written for only white men to perform, adaptation becomes necessary... I believe that viewing ethical and representative productions of Shakespeare as artist-lead adaptation is giving power to the theatre practitioners who are living and creating today, rather than allowing the power to remain with a playwright who has been dead for 400 years."
The 2020 Wooden O Symposium and virtual conference, typically held in Cedar City, Utah as part of the educational mission of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, will take place August 3-4, 2020.