Branagh’s Shakespeare Renaissance

The current exhibition at the Shakespeare Institute Library showcases highlights from the Library’s archives featuring the work of Sir Kenneth Branagh, taken from the Renaissance Theatre Company Collection, the Renaissance Films PLC Collection and the Russell Jackson Collection.

Featuring a selection of photographs, manuscript notes, typewritten notes, location notes, camera scripts, cast lists, filming breakdown reports and story boards, the exhibition offers a fantastic insight into the transformation of written text into a compelling cinematic representation. It focuses on 1996 film of Hamlet, directed, produced and adapted for the screen by Branagh, who also plays the lead role, and the 2006 film of As You Like It, also produced and adapted for screen by Sir Kenneth.

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Hamlet, story board, Russell Jackson Collection, SIL, DSH28

Much of the material is held in the Russell Jackson Collection, recently donated to the Library by Professor Jackson and which is currently being catalogued.  Jackson has worked with Branagh for over thirty years as a textual consultant on many of his stage productions, radio plays  and all of his films. This invaluable collection contains a wealth of material covering Branagh’s career as actor and director to date. The exhibition features Jackson’s  full annotated script of the 1993 BBC Radio 3 production of Romeo and Juliet as well as his manuscript diary of the filming of Hamlet. For further insight into Professor Jackson’s role as text advisor on these and other film and stage productions, read his article ‘Working with Shakespeare: Confessions of an Advisor’, Cinéaste, Vol. 24, No. 1 (1998), pp. 42-44, available via FindIt and JSTOR.

Prof. Jackson will also be discussing his work with Branagh in a special Q&A with Prof. Michael Dobson, to accompany the exhibition. This will be held at the Shakespeare Institute on the 7 March from 4.30-5.30pm. 

It is also thanks to Russell Jackson that the Renaissance Theatre Company and Renaissance Film collections are held in the Shakespeare Institute Library archives. The RTC Archive contains prompt books, programmes and production photographs from  1986 to 1992, when the company was disbanded. The Renaissance Film archive is lesser in extent, but includes the script, story boards and promotional material for Branagh’s Henry V.  The Shakespeare Institute Library also holds an extensive selection of books, articles, newscuttings and DVDs related to these productions.

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Kenneth Branagh, directing on the set of As You Like It at Wakehurst Place in West Sussex.

As well as his many other accolades, Sir Kenneth Branagh is an honorary fellow of the Shakespeare Institute – an honour of which he is ‘very proud’, according to a handwritten letter which also features in the exhibition. He was also the 2015 recipient of the Pragnell Prize, awarded annually for outstanding achievement in extending appreciation and enjoyment of Shakespeare’s works.

The exhibition will remain in place until the end of March.

Follow this blog for extracts from Russell’s Hamlet diary over the next couple of months.

 

 

Works of Kenneth Branagh available through Box of Broadcasts:

Antony and Cleopatra (Branagh as Antony)

As You Like It (Shakespeare Film Company)

Hamlet (BBC Radio 3)

Henry V (Renaissance Films)

King Lear (BBC Radio 3)

Romeo and Juliet (BBC Radio 3)

Kenneth Branagh: a Culture Show special (BBC2)

The Readiness is All: the filming of Hamlet (behind-the-scenes at the making of Branagh’s Hamlet)

 

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