Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and the unmade Macbeth – Tuesday 2nd June 2015, 6pm

Vivien Leigh and Laurence

Dr Jennifer Barnes explores the story of Laurence Olivier’s unmade Shakespeare film, Macbeth.

Since Macbeth was shelved in 1958 it has gained a reputation as representing a gap in the fabric of Britain’s national cinema with a variety of scholars and cultural commentators wondering just what exactly Olivier’s fourth and final Shakespeare film might have looked like and how it would have fitted in alongside Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1945) and Richard III (1955).

In 2012 Jennifer discovered 13 hitherto unseen screenplays for Macbeth in the British Library. In this talk Jennifer discusses how the screenplays offer us a unique insight into Olivier’s approach to filming Shakespeare and how they reveal something significant about Olivier himself.

Reading the screenplays alongside Olivier’s autobiography and accounts from fellow theatre stars, Jennifer shows how the unmade Macbeth exemplifies Laurence Olivier’s tendency to interpret moments of personal and professional crisis through appropriations of Shakespeare. Written during a fraught period that would end with Olivier’s divorce from Vivien Leigh in 1960, it becomes clear that this unmade cinematic Shakespeare plays out, through the Macbeths, the very public downfall of the so-called ‘Theatre Royals.’

Join us in the relaxed atmosphere of the McManus Café for a short talk followed by your chance to ask questions and discuss the topic.

Everyone is welcome. Free. Non-bookable. Places are limited so please arrive early to avoid disappointment. Doors open at 5pm. This event is likely to last one hour.



Negotiating the Past:Shakespeare’s Medieval Inheritance – 4th September 2012

A portrait of William Shakespeare - close-up This  superb and topical talk on Shakespeare’s legacy was timed to coincide with the World Shakespeare Festival, which had been all over the TV screens.

Dr Jo George, from the English dept at the University of Dundee, discussed the medieval mystery and morality plays that inspired Shakespeare. Short scenes from these early dramas were performed by members of the JOOT Theatre Company.

This event was kindly hosted by the cafe at The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum.

You can view the full talk as a playlist of six shorter clips here on YouTube.

H.G.Wells and Cinema – Turning Science Fiction into Science Fact – 1st November 2011

An illustration of George Pal's 1960 model of the Time MachineThe  McManus Cafe, Dundee hosted this  short talk and discussion on science fiction and the dawn of cinema.

This event covered H.G.Wells’s most famous story The Time Machine and a range of his other short stories.

Dr. Keith Williams from the University of Dundee discussed how each text imagined the visual technology of the future. Drawing on the cutting-edge science of the late 19th Century, Wells was able to predict the development of new media including cinema, television, virtual reality…..even the internet!

In particular Wells’s writings on how we observe the World influenced one of Britain’s pioneering film-makers, R.W.Paul at the very dawn of the cinematic age.

Dundee Science Festival logoThis event was proud to be part of the 2011 Dundee Science Festival programme.