“(the Time is) Out of Joint”: Shakespeare and the Problem of Power

On the evening of 15 June 2016, a group of students of the Natolin campus of the College of Europe unveiled the project (the Time is) Out of Joint, a celebration of Shakespeare's 400th anniversary.

The event, which blent theatre and music, provided attendees with an excellent opportunity to enjoy performances of scenes from some of Shakespeare’s most renowned tragedies in a unique setting, the Natolin Palace and Park in Warsaw. The play was a 'philosophical' exploration in the form of a 'paneuropean theatrical dialogue' on the problem of power, as embodied by the most famous Shakespearian characters, from Romeo and Juliet (power of family/conflict of generations), Othello (power of men on women; racial discrimination), Macbeth (irrational ambition of power/political violence), and King Lear (madness and surrender of power).

As an introduction and intermission, there were performances of scenes from dramas such as Hamlet (chaotic times/ need of changes); The Merchant of Venice (power of money and unjust law; fear of the Jew), plus a positive conclusion from Midsummer Night's Dream (power of love). The recitation, minimalist and with paper in hands, respected the original Shakespearean text, backed by a meta-theatrical framework.

Moreover, in this path from the palace of power to the forest of irrationality – towards a new civilization of love, synthesis of culture and nature – the Natolin Choir performed, together with instrumentalists, some Elizabethan music, as well as modern and contemporary music inspired by the words of Shakespeare. Befittingly, Chopin – patron of Warsaw and of the current promotion of College of Europe – was included with his Nocturne Op. 15, n. 3 in Sol Minor ("At the cemetery"), said to be inspired by a representation of Hamlet. "All the world’s a stage".