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'What stuff 'tis made of': The Material History of Lord Denney's Players Exhibition

January 23, 2024

'What stuff 'tis made of': The Material History of Lord Denney's Players Exhibition

A green tennis ball with a gold king's crown balanced on top of it

Each semester, the Humanities Institute hosts a rotating mini-exhibition of material culture curated by our center leaders and students. This semester features "'What stuff 'tis made of': The Material History of Lord Denney's Players," a collection of props, costumes and more from the Shakespearean theatrical group at the Ohio State University. Founded by Sarah Neville in 2014, Lord Denney's Players (LDP) is now jointly housed in the departments of English and Theatre, Film, and Media Arts. 

In her curator's statement (below) Sarah Neville, professor in the Department of English and the Department of Theatre, Film, and Media Arts and creative director of Lord Denney's Players, talks about how this collection of properties, costume pieces and dramatic paratexts (tickets, programs) showcases the material history of LDP and commemorates its ten productions. 

The exhibition will be on view in 198 Hagerty Hall through April 22, 2024. 198 is open to the public from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. 

This exhibition is open to the public. For more information, contact Megan Moriarty, Communications and Marketing Specialist for the Humanities Institute, at moriarty.8@osu.edu. 


Curator's Statement

Lord Denney's Players is especially interested in using performance to interrogate challenging textual phenomena about Shakespeare’s works that are not widely known to the public. For example, surviving documentary evidence reveals that Shakespeare was a compulsive self-editor and reviser, regularly returning to offer updated or alternative versions of now-canonical works like HamletKing Lear, Henry V, and Romeo and Juliet. As part of its educational mandate, LDP regularly chooses to perform these earlier and less familiar versions of Shakespeare’s plays to bring these scholarly debates about Shakespeare’s working habits to wider public attention. (They are largely designated as “Q1 text” in the list below.) For their groundbreaking work with the 1602 Q1 text of The Merry Wives of Windsor in 2018, LDP was awarded a Resolution of Expression from the Columbus City Council. 

Though theatre is an ephemeral art, this exhibition of properties, costume pieces, and dramatic paratexts (tickets, programs) showcases the material history of Lord Denney’s Players and commemorates its ten productions. This exhibition invites viewers to imagine the how these performance items could be handled or worn onstage by actors or manipulated by those who witnessed the live performance. For playwrights, properties and costumes were precision tools that could be used evoke certain emotions or ideas in an audience. For directors, the strategic use of props and costumes can similarly create or enhance a desired effect, like by making a confusing bit of language more comprehensible or by adding a local, modern OSU context to help audiences better understand the action of a sixteenth- or seventeenth-century play. Some of the items in this case were tailored to their specific production, while others have been reused in multiple LDP shows, thereby taking on additional meaning for viewers who can recognize them from earlier performances. Lord Denney’s Players puts on a play every fall semester – for more information about future productions, see lorddenneysplayers.com. 

Production History

Since 2014, LDP has produced 8 plays and 2 films:

2015 The Tragedy of Richard II (Q1 and F1 texts on alternate weekends), dir. Sarah Neville

2015 The Annunciation and The Second Shepherds’ Play, dir. Richard Firth Green

2017 The Tempest, dir. Manuel Antonio Jacquez

2018 Sir John Falstaff and the Merry Wives of Windsor (Q1 text), dir. Sarah Neville

2019 Romeo and Juliet (Q1 text), dir. Cat McAlpine

2020 Much Ado About Nothing / Much A-Zoom About Nothing*, dir. Hannah Woods / Sarah Neville (this production was modified because of the Covid shutdown)

2021 Looking for Hamlet, 1603*, dir. Sarah Neville

2022 The Comedy of Errors, dir. Elizabeth Falter

2022 The Chronicle History of Henry V (Q1 text), dir. Sean Naughton

2023 A Midsummer Night’s Dream (F1 text), dir. Sarah Neville

* films available on YouTube