Levels of meaning in Shakespeare with Philip Marvin

Tuesday 6th July 2021


“Each line in Shakespeare is an atom; the energy that can be released is infinite – if we can split it open.”
Peter Brook

Shakespeare’s ‘mirror up to nature’ encompasses every aspect of human being. It is common to explore his texts in terms of plot development, themes, imagery, historical background, sources/influences, rhetorical devices, linguistic analysis etc. This all has its place. But Shakespeare’s mirror up to nature goes deep. Deeper than perhaps any other writer has ever achieved. This means it encompasses not only the day to day, practical ‘earthy’ concerns of our sensory world and reactions to it, but the most profound psychological, emotional and spiritual dimensions of our world also. The mirror not only reflects/informs but through performance and ‘entertainment’ can engage us in powerful emotional currents that have the transformational power to awaken the soul, revealing a fundamental unity of being normally hidden from us.

With Shakespeare the universal can always be found in the particular. The apparently mundane can reveal an infinity of meaning. His words, sounds and rhythms, can, under the right conditions, resonate in quite magical ways revealing a hidden life which our normal conceptual, analytical mind is incapable of penetrating. As the legendary theatre and film director Peter Brook puts it:

“Each line in Shakespeare is an atom; the energy that can be released is infinite – if we can split it open.”

In this session, we will explore the different levels of meaning contained in Shakespeare’s works and their power to transform our own understanding of ourselves and the world.

Philip Marvin, a former Financial Times and Reuters journalist, has run a wide variety of Shakespeare workshops for over 25 years. His approach is unusual and is greatly informed by a deep-rooted spiritual background in non-dualistic philosophy, particularly as expressed in Vedanta and Christian mysticism. He has taught groups for many years in this philosophical tradition. Philip is especially concerned with bringing out the different levels of meanings embedded in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets and their practical lessons for life. Apart from the normal textual analysis, his aim is always to help open up the direct, transformational potential within these works to awaken the soul through ‘entertainment’. There is a science in Shakespeare’s art.

For ten years he ran a highly successful series of “A Day with Shakespeare” events in which scholarly discussion and spiritual insight were combined in a programme that included dramatic excerpts played out by professional actors and talks by leading experts. He studied at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford upon Avon and recently completed his first ever Shakespeare-related film, ‘Love in Eternity’. He currently runs Zoom couses on Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets and for five years (pre Covid) ran a Shakespeare retreat week at his house in Puglia, southern Italy, which will be returning this September. For more information visit: https://www.shakespeareinside.com/

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