Lord Denney’s Players is a theatrical group housed in the Ohio State Department of English that was founded in 2014 to demonstrate the value and vitality of student-driven academic theatre. The group provides an opportunity for OSU undergraduates, graduate students and faculty to engage in intensive experiential learning and research around the annual production of an early English play or series of plays. During the rehearsal and performance process, related special topics workshops, courses and assignments throughout the English department offer myriad opportunities for hands-on student and faculty investment.
"I have learned what it means to take literature-based learning and put it into a hands-on experience…This experience has changed the way I look at my experience as an English major because it has shown me that lab-based learning has a place in English."
Lord Denney’s Players is invested in all dramatic works of the medieval and early modern periods, but because of his role in the formation of the English literary canon, LDP often returns to Shakespeare. It is now almost a cliché to say that Shakespeare’s plays were exclusively meant to be vehicles for performance, but in the past thirty years, mounting evidence that Shakespeare considered himself a literary dramatist now requires scholars to consider the effects of his works both on the page as well as on the stage. LDP productions are therefore as preoccupied with the ways that Shakespeare’s texts were transmitted through the technologies of the past as they are with the ways that modern audiences reshape his plays to suit the preoccupations of the present.
Surviving documentary evidence reveals that Shakespeare was a compulsive self-editor and reviser, regularly returning to offer updated or alternative versions of now-canonical works like Hamlet, King Lear and Romeo and Juliet. As part of its educational mandate, Lord Denney’s Players regularly chooses to perform these less familiar versions of the works of Shakespeare to bring these scholarly debates about Shakespeare’s working habits to wider public attention. For our work with the 1602 early quarto text of The Merry Wives of Windsor in 2018, LDP was awarded a Resolution of Expression from the Columbus City Council:
In our endeavors to use the resources of Ohio State University to investigate unusual texts of Shakespeare and his predecessors and contemporaries, it might be argued that LDP is following historical precedent: the title page of the first quarto, or “bad” text of Shakespeare’s Hamlet of 1603 insists that the play had not only been performed in London, but also at “the two Universities of Cambridge and Oxford”:
Casting for Lord Denney’s Players is all-inclusive, welcoming the talents of all Ohio State students, faculty and staff. The concepts for LDP shows are always built around our ensemble, so we are easily able to accommodate everyone who might be interested in learning more about early English drama. Whether they wear hijab and starred in musical productions throughout high school but never touched a word of Shakespeare, or if they have never acted before (but have plenty of fencing experience!), or if they can perform a note-perfect impression of Laurence Olivier as Richard III, or if their mom just thinks that they’d be great at it — all curious and interested would-be actors are encouraged to audition. Our performance and rehearsal spaces are wheelchair accessible and all LDP shows are cast gender-blind. Our work is made possible thanks to the support of anonymous alumni donors, for which we are eternally grateful.
Our 2019 production will be the 1597 first quarto text of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which will run April 4-6 and 11-13, 2019 at the Columbus Performing Arts Center. For more information about our upcoming and our past productions, see the tabs to the right. For more information about the company, contact Creative Director Sarah Neville. To keep up with Lord Denney’s Players, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
"Before taking part in the Richard II production, I never had the chance to get involved in theater. Having the opportunity to act and design costumes for the show was such a new and wonderful experience and has permanently changed the way I approach Shakespeare."
—Emory Noakes (BA '15; MA in Shakespeare Studies from King’s College London in conjunction with Shakespeare’s Globe '16)