2 May 2018 12:00pm - 2:00pm Seminar Room SG1, Alison Richard Building


Dr Teresa Grant (Warwick)
Mervyn Millar (Independent Artist/Puppetry Director & Designer)



Dr Teresa Grant
Political ‘Things’: Sir William Davenant’s Rope-Dancing Monkeys

‘Rope dancing’, a specialised skill of the medieval tumbleres, had a particular popularity in seventeenth-century entertainment. Animals were often the stars, especially apes and even elephants (allegedly), a development from minstrel displays incorporating trained animals. Sir William Davenant exploited the political import of the rope-dancing ape: his mini-opera The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru (1658) employed crowd-pleasing high-wire-walking monkeys, I will argue, as subversive Royalist propaganda. The story ranges from the travel narratives of the New World to engravings featuring Mr and Mrs Oliver Cromwell to lay out a world where a monkey dance is never just a monkey dancing. 

Mervyn Millar (Independent Artist/Puppetry Director & Designer)
Perception and Performing Things

How is it possible that we can feel empathy for a thing? Since the beginning of civilisation, humans have been compelled and transfixed by performing objects and puppets. From our earliest play, to some of our most sophisticated entertainments, performing things draw on sculpture, movement, texture and context to stimulate emotional responses in an audience. 
Please “bring a thing” – any object from 1400-2000 that is big enough to hold in two hands and light enough to hold in one hand and is not too fragile to be handled enthusiastically.
Theatre director and puppeteer Mervyn Millar was Artist in Residence at QMUL University in London in 2017, exploring the neurology and psychology of our responses to animated objects. His work in theatre has included War Horse, Circus 1903 and work at several leading theatre and opera companies in the UK and Europe. www.significantobject.com

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Free and open to all. Part of the Imaginative Things: Curious Objects 1400–2000 Seminar Series.
Administrative assistance: gradfac@crassh.cam.ac.uk

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