Faculty of Arts - School of Humanities

2005 Inaugural Alice Griffin Fellow: Professor Andrew Gurr

(University of Reading)


In 2005 one of the world's leading authorities on Shakespeare returned to The University of Auckland to give the inaugural Alice Griffin Shakespeare Lecture.

Professor Andrew Gurr holds an MA (First Class Honours) from The University of Auckland, and a PhD from Kings College at the University of Cambridge. Professor Gurr has taught Shakespeare at universities in the UK, Africa, the USA, and New Zealand for over 40 years and has recently retired from the University of Reading. As chief academic advisor for 20 years to the new Globe Theatre, which opened in London in 1997, Professor Gurr supervised the design of the theatre, and advised on the historic authenticity of its construction.

Professor Gurr's Alice Griffin lecture titled 'Shakespearean Audiences, Modern Spectators' allowed the audience to learn more about the audiences of Shakespeare and consider the view that modern audiences have become spectators and viewers of the spectacle, rather than hearers. "Modern playgoers think about theatre as a two dimensional experience, like cinema. Personally I am rather hostile to Shakespeare on film, because it puts audiences back in the dark, where they are looking at the picture instead of sharing the experiences". For Shakespeare however, theatre was three dimensional and people came to hear a play, not to see it. The design of the early theatres in which the plays of Shakespeare's time were staged shows us how the audience was supposed to encircle the stage – ideal for listening but not for seeing".