Actor and director John Bell to put Shakespeare centre stage in ABC Boyer Lectures

Acclaimed Australian actor and theatre director John Bell AO OBE will set the stage for William Shakespeare’s lessons on life and leadership in the 21st century in this year’s ABC Boyer Lectures.
Bell’s lecture series titled Shakespeare: Soul of the Age, to be broadcast on ABC Radio National from 7 November, will examine how the Bard’s life and works have profound relevance to contemporary issues, such as political self-interest, gender inequality and the growing need for good governance.
Bell says Shakespeare’s plays shine a spotlight on the perils of poor leadership around the world today, from political populism and slogans to the “chaotic presidency” of Donald Trump.
He says, “Through this year’s ABC Boyer Lectures, I want to encourage more engagement with Shakespeare, who continues to have a profound effect on the ways we think, speak and see the world, even when we don’t realise it.
“In Hamlet, Shakespeare says that the purpose of theatre is to hold ‘the mirror up to nature’. In the same way, I want to use his plays to reflect and comment on the world around us – the age and body of our time.”
ABC Chair Ita Buttrose says, “John Bell is beloved by generations of Australians for bringing Shakespeare to life in the modern age.
“His insights about the extraordinary pertinence of Shakespeare’s works to the world around us will make a welcome addition to the role of the ABC Boyer Lectures in sparking discussion and debate. At such an unsettling time for so many, we could all do with a bit of beauty and sage advice about the challenges we face.”
Bell’s four lectures, to be broadcast on ABC RN on Sundays from 7-28 November and available on podcasts via the ABC listen app, will explore how Shakespeare remains essential reading in the 21stcentury, including his role in setting the stage for strong, smart and compassionate women.


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