An Oxford Don, Puppets, and the Steamy Bodleian Library

I first encountered Tiffany Stern at the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriar’s Conference in Staunton, Virginia.  A sea of geniuses (genii?) watched Ms. Stern’s keynote address with eyes like teenage girls at a Twilight movie. With good reason, too.  This Oxford don, this English lady-Columbo of early modern theatre studies, absolutely slayed the crowd with her insights and new ways of attacking old questions.  She laid waste to her intellectual adversaries with the sweetest smile, and  I loved her straight away.

The following Blackfriars Conference, Ms. Stern had another wide-eyed fan in me, and I squealed a little when she pulled up pictures of an ancient puppet.  Her thoughts on the importance of puppet shows in early modern theatre were incredibly exciting.  How could I see a show like the one that Ms. Stern was describing?  Who would the cool company be who would undertake such a production, and who would get the blessing of such a famous scholar/star like Stern?

Long story short is, the Hidden Room is now after much discussion, finger-crossing, and a trip to Oxford, officially that lucky company.  Let the girlish screams of ecstasy start…now.

Professor Stern was nice enough to agree to collaborate with us on creating an Original Practices puppet show, and our play will be an English translation of the oft-debated “Der Bestrafte Brudermord” or “Fratricide Revenged,” the mysterious German Hamlet.   As the show’s dates and travels are firmed up, we’ll be sure to pass the info along.

On my way back from Oxford this October, elated and exhausted, I stopped at an airport bookstore, trying desperately to stay awake.  I grabbed a book that caught my eye, cracked it open, and discovered that it was about an Oxford fellow who was being courted by a sexy vampire in the recesses of the Bodleian Library.   Reading it on the plane (don’t judge) I couldn’t help but think back to all the screaming sexy vampire fans out there, all of Tiffany Stern’s admiring scholars, and wondering if it could indeed be puppets that will bring those two groups of folks together happily on a fall evening of 2013.   I vote yes.  Squeal!           – Beth Burns