Dr Nick Walton
Meet Dr Nick Walton, our Shakespeare Courses Development Manager
What is your job title?
Shakespeare Courses Development Manager
What kind of things does your job typically entail?
I’m very lucky - I get to enjoy all of the ‘behind the scenes’ work that goes into planning and co-ordinating our courses, as well as the special pleasure of then working with our secondary, university and leisure learning groups onsite and online. One moment I can be sharing ideas with A Level students revising for their exams, and the next I’m welcoming students from another part of the world, excited to explore Shakespeare’s works often in their second, or sometimes their third language.
Why do you think learning about Shakespeare and his work is important to us today?
Everyone you ask will probably have a different answer for this question. For some, Shakespeare and his works are important because they have shaped our language, developed our sense of identity, and inspired creativity. For others, it could be the window Shakespeare and his works offer into a distant (yet at times very familiar) historical past. While I believe all those things, for me personally it is important to learn about Shakespeare because he is here, there and everywhere. Like him or not he is a big part of our world, so it’s important to be a part of the conversation and determine for yourself what the fuss is all about.
What is your favourite Shakespeare related experience- at SBT or elsewhere?
Some years ago I worked with a talented illustrator and co-wrote a book called the Wallbook of Shakespeare. We set out to tell the story of all of Shakespeare’s plays using just three illustrations and three quotations per play. A giant version of the colourful book stood in the garden of Shakespeare’s Birthplace for some time, and one of my favourite Shakespeare related experiences was seeing the ways in which people engaged with the book. Some were pleased to spot favourite characters or scenes, while others pointed with glee at the blood, guts and gore or looked surprised to find out that there are roles in Shakespeare’s plays for an asp, a dog, and a bear.
What are the challenges, do you think, in bringing Shakespeare to life for contemporary audiences?
Preconceptions can be a killer. Shakespeare is often labelled as being ‘slow’ and yet his character’s thoughts often flick rapidly from one thought to another in quick succession. Far from being ‘slow’, I think part of the challenge for audiences today is actually keeping up with Shakespeare because he is so quick. Reading or watching Shakespeare can sometimes feel like ski-ing down a slope with one foot slightly lifted off the ground. Part of the thrill is the driving momentum pushing you forward and Shakespeare can have something of the same buzz if you let yourself go where he leads (without always stopping to think).
Finally- what is your favourite joke? Doesn’t have to be Shakespearean…
Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.