About 2021 Lloyd Davis Public Lecture

You’ve heard of Shakespeare in Love, but have you heard of Shakespeare in Jail?  

In this public lecture, Wherefore should I stand in the plague of custom? - Re-democratising Shakespeare led by Associate Professor Rob Pensalfini, discover how Shakespeare is being applied in a modern context to help incarcerated and at-risk youths while learning more about the world's greatest bard.  


A playwright for all classes and educational levels in his own time, William Shakespeare suffered relegation to elite status in the centuries after his death, and his name is now synonymous with high culture, privilege, and the torture of high school students. Rob will talk about the efforts of the Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble, UQ’s resident professional theatre company, to have Shakespeare recognised as The Simpsons of his day and to re-open the doors of Shakespeare production and performance to people of all classes and backgrounds, with an emphasis on the marginalised in particular. The talk will feature the Ensemble’s work with Shakespeare in Prisons and with at-risk and incarcerated youth but will also touch on a number of other projects, including Rob's research into accent and Shakespeare. 

Wherefore should I stand in the plague of custom?  - Re-democratising Shakespeare is open to all Shakespeare lovers and curious individuals wanting to know more about literature.

About the Presenter 

Rob is the Associate Professor in Linguistics and Drama at the University of Queensland and the Artistic Director of the QSE. His linguistic research focuses on the structure of Australian Aboriginal languages, particularly those of the Barkly Tableland, on which he has written or co-authored five books and several dozen articles. As a drama scholar, Rob has published on actor training, Shakespeare performance in Australia, and prison theatre, including his 2016 book Prison Shakespeare: for these deep shames and great indignities

In the theatre, Rob is an actor, director, teacher, composer, and musician. His directing credits include Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Comedy of Errors, As You Like It, The Blood Votes (by local playwright Michael Futcher) and Where the Wild Things Are for QSE, and, for QSE’s Shakespeare Prison Project, The Tempest, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, The Comedy of Errors and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Acting credits for QSE include Prospero, Falstaff, Leontes, Titus Andronicus, Sir Toby Belch, Feste, Touchstone, Coriolanus, Shylock, and Friar Laurence. 

This year saw the publication of Rob’s first full-length play, Bogga,  a verbatim piece drawing on oral histories of life and work in Brisbane’s notorious Boggo Road Gaol in the 1970s and 1980s. 

Rob was inducted into the Queensland Culture Champions Hall of Fame in 2013 for his work both in the theatre and with indigenous languages. 

About the Lloyd Davis Public Lecture 

To honour and commemorate the life and work of Associate Professor Lloyd Davis, who passed away in 2005, UQ has created this Visiting Professorship for leading Shakespeare scholars. Commencing in 2006, this year will be the 16th lecture.  

In announcing the Professorship in 2005, then UQ Vice Chancellor Professor Hay, AC, said the following:  

“UQ is committed to the long-term expansion of Shakespeare studies, to build on our international reputation for excellence and the momentum of next year's events. The Lloyd Davis Memorial Visiting Professorship will bring one major world scholar to UQ each year, beginning in 2006, to teach and share their scholarship with our own Shakespeareans.” 

Event Details 

Event Date: Wednesday 22 September 2021

Event Time: 5.15pm for a 5.30pm start 

Event Location: The Women’s College, May Hancock Auditorium, College Rd, St Lucia 

RSVP: Friday 17 September 2021