The Artistry and Scholarship of Shakespeare

August 18, 2020  • Aspen Community Programs

Featuring Folger Shakespeare Library Director Dr. Michael Witmore, Insight Partners Co-Founder Jerry Murdock, and Utah Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Brian Vaughn, in conversation with Movers and Shakespeares Vice President and longtime Aspen Institute Moderator Ken Adelman. The panel discussed the Folger Shakespeare Library collection and scholarship work, as well as Murdock’s interpretation and production of Hamlet, which was directed by Vaughn. How do the politics of Shakespeare’s time inform this interpretation of Hamlet? Why did Ophelia’s role need to be reexamined?

Read more about Jerry Murdock’s adaptation and the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s production of Hamlet

Dr. Michael Witmore was appointed the seventh director of the Folger on July 1, 2011. Upon his arrival, he worked with the Board of Governors to draft a Strategic Plan for the institution, adopted in June 2013. He was formerly professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and before that he served as associate professor of English and assistant professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University. The recipient of numerous fellowships, he has held an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles, a research fellowship and a curatorial residency fellowship at the Folger, and a predoctoral fellowship at the Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte in Berlin. Dr. Witmore earned an A.B. in English at Vassar College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. His publications include numerous articles, website resources, and book chapters, and he has published five books: Landscapes of the Passing Strange: Reflections from Shakespeare, with Rosamond Purcell (2010), Shakespearean Metaphysics (2009), Pretty Creatures: Children and Fiction in the English Renaissance (2007), Childhood and Children’s Books in Early Modern Europe, 1550-1800 (2006), and Culture of Accidents: Unexpected Knowledge in Early Modern England (2001). He currently has several books in progress, including a study of early modern wisdom literature and a book on the nature of digital inquiry in the humanities.

Jerry Murdock is a co-founder of Insight Partners and was a Managing Director of the firm until April 2011. Jerry played a leading role in defining the company’s investment strategy, and was primarily responsible for the development of many of the firms portfolio investments. From 1988 to 1995, Mr. Murdock was a founder and director of the Aspen Technology Group. Mr. Murdock studied at San Diego State University and subsequently worked at the Georgetown Center for Strategic & International Studies (now known as CSIS) where he was a contributor to the export competitiveness project. His work was published in The Export Competitive Series: Comparative Analysis of Export Policy, United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada and Japan. Mr. Murdock is a member of the Board of Trustees of both The Santa Fe Institute and The Aspen Institute and is a co-founder of For The Forest.

Brian Vaughn is the Artistic Director of The Utah Shakespeare Festival where he currently helps facilitate the Festival’s nearly $8 million-dollar annual operating budget and oversees, education, production, casting and all artistic programming. He has produced over 80 various productions, including thirty-four plays by William Shakespeare, multiple musicals, classical and contemporary plays, the world premiere of How to Fight Loneliness by Neil LaBute and premiere adaptations of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and George M. Cohan’s The Tavern. He also oversees the Festival’s WORDS3 New Play Program – a series dedicated to the advancement of new works, showcasing various new plays by top American playwrights. He has been a guest artist/actor/director at numerous universities and regional theatres across the country including Arizona Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Denver Center Theatre Company, Nevada Conservatory Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Red Bull Theatre, South Coast Repertory, and thirteen years as a Resident Company Member with The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. His numerous directing credits include productions of Hamlet; Henry V; Henry IV parts 1 and 2; Othello; The Merry Wives of Windsor; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Dial M for Murder; Vanya, Sonya, Masha and Spike; A Christmas Carol and the Regional premieres of Peter and the Starcatcher and Shakespeare in Love. His numerous acting credits include the title roles in Hamlet, Henry V, and Cyrano de Bergerac; as well as Iago, Benedick, Hotspur, Petruchio, Leontes, Harold Hill in The Music Man, Javert in Les Misérables, Mozart in Amadeus, The Poet in An Iliad, Charlie in Stones in his Pockets and both Felix and Oscar in The Odd Couple to name a few.

Ken Adelman is Vice President of Movers & Shakespeares, who began participating in the Aspen Institute in the mid-1980s, including many Shakespeare seminars. He was a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Director of the U.S. Arms Control & Disarmament Agency during the Reagan administration.