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Rob Clare

Dr Rob Clare was Warwick/RSC Fellow in Creativity in 2007/8. His project was a comprehensive and fundamentally practical exploration of the developing complexity of Shakespeare’s dramatic verse, and of the shifts between varying kinds of verse and prose in his plays, by practitioners’ lights. Durng the project Rob aimed to illustrate and assess the varying (and at times apparently contradictory) strategies commonly proposed for the most effective interpretation or realization of the texts, and most particularly of the verse, with reference to these same textual developments and variations. All of thes estrategies were to be cross-referenced to enable practitioners to identify an increasingly supportive range of creative opportunities and inherent invitations to them within the texts, rather than supposed instructions.

The project would also include the following:

  • re-examination and reassessment of some of the supposed conventions commonly assumed to have governed the playwright’s deployment of verse and prose
  • an examination of the special challenges and the potential opportunities inherent in different kinds of rhymed verse, in varying dramatic contexts
  • discussion of the potential benefits of following certain strategies based upon a close reading of the First Folio, but illustration also of their potential pitfalls
  • discussion of ‘indeterminate’ text, where the boundary between verse and prose may be unclear, or the text itself may exhibit properties of both

Throughout the project, close textual analysis was supported by practical exploration and illustration of the subject matter and the attendant issues through workshops and, where appropriate, rehearsal, involving both student and professional actors. Rob Clare's CAPITAL Fellowship involved a workshop series for students and staff entitled Shakespeare's Toolkit .

Rob was educated at Oxford University, trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama (CSSD), London, and worked as an actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and such leading UK theatres as the Royal Exchange Theatre (Manchester) before becoming a Staff Director at the National Theatre, working primarily with Sir Peter Hall. He was then Associate Artistic Director of Compass Theatre, directing national tours of Amadeus (with Tim Pigott-Smith) and a prisons tour of Comedians (with Rufus Sewell). Becoming increasingly interested in differing approaches to acting Shakespeare, he returned to Oxford to complete a doctorate in the subject in the 1990s, and has subsequently become an internationally recognised specialist helping actors of all levels of experience to make Shakespeare’s texts their own. He works regularly in India, in Ireland, at the Actors Center in New York, and has taught and directed in some of the UK’s leading drama schools, including establishing the MA Classical Acting course at CSSD, which he also led for its first three years.

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Photography by peter marsh/ashmorevisuals

During the past decade Rob's freelance portfolio has also included regular workshops and masterclasses for the core acting ensemble of the RSC, and work as a specialized verse and text coach on their most recent productions of Richard III, Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, Henry V and Hamlet. The RSC also sponsored him to a special Research Fellowship at Warwick University, to enable development of a comprehensive, accessible and above all practical guide to the interpretation of Shakespearean verse for actors and directors. Most recently, he also worked as a verse and text specialist with Chicago’s acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre Company on their first Shakespeare production, The Tempest, directed by Tina Landau, and led workshops for the Academy of Classical Acting in Washington DC.  

Rob is also Artistic Director of Kestrel Theatre Company, working creatively through drama within the criminal justice system. His work in N Ireland prisons was the subject of the BBC documentary Act of Faith, and his work elsewhere within UK prisons resulted in the short film Bullfrog, specially commissioned and broadcast by Carlton TV. When not working on Shakespeare or within prison he enjoys competing in triathlons and climbing mountains.