About Us

Curtain call - As You Like It
As You Like It at New Swan, 2016. Photo: Paul Kennedy.

The UCI New Swan Shakespeare Center


The name “Shakespeare” is practically synonymous with English literature, world literature and the art of theater. Balancing mythic archetypes with historical realism, political commentary and psychological insight, his works continue to speak across centuries and in multiple settings and media, thanks to the co-creative energy of directors, actors, designers, scholars, editors, translators, teachers, students, readers and audiences. Shakespeare’s plays are works of dramatic poetry, texts for performance, and unending resources for adaptation, allusion and collaborative world-making. Abounding in higher pleasures, the plays ask all participants in the interpretive and theatrical enterprise to exercise new forms of attention and imagination as well as stretch their historical knowledge and linguistic fluency. Such efforts are most often pursued in the shared spaces of theaters, classrooms and rehearsal rooms, where we learn together how to “find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything” (As You Like It).


Co-directors Eli Simon, Chancellor's Professor of drama, and Julia Lupton, professor of English

Shakespeare has been a part of UCI ever since the campus’s first class of drama students presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1965. Forty-seven years later, the Department of Drama and Claire Trevor School of the Arts launched New Swan Shakespeare Festival, which performs two plays in rotating repertory each summer in an intimate outdoor theater modeled on an Elizabethan stage. Robert Cohen (Drama) and Ed Schell (English) helped fund the initial building, which continues to be maintained through generous donor support and ongoing commitment from the Claire Trevor School of the Arts and the campus. Eli Simon, Chancellor’s Professor of drama at UCI, directs the festival.

The New Swan Shakespeare Center is a Specialized Research Program supported by the Office of Research and closely allied with the School of Humanities and the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. Partnered with New Swan Shakespeare Festival, the New Swan Shakespeare Center sponsors year-round academic and public programming focused on the Bard. Through our festival and programs, UCI has become the premier campus in the UC system for the integrated production, study and enjoyment of Shakespeare. Julia Lupton, professor of English, directs educational and academic programs for the center.

Signature activities of the New Swan Shakespeare Center include:
  • Lectures, seminars and weekend retreats organized around New Swan Shakespeare Festival
  • Seminars and workshops for high school teachers
  • The Shakespeare Trial, a partnership with UCI Law
  • Lectures and symposia featuring research on Shakespeare
  • Play-reading groups for students and community members
  • First Folio Fridays that open Langson Library’s Special Collections to students and the community
  • Online, system-wide Shakespeare course featuring UCI faculty from the Departments of English and Drama (Learn more here.)
  • Residencies and master classes with visiting actors, directors,and designers
  • Kirk Davis Jr. Annual Public Shakespeare Lecture
  • Global Shakespeare: lectures and demonstrations
  • Research partnerships with the Huntington Library, the Clark Library and the Folger Library
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