WLU Early Modern Play Reading Group

I’m Dr Andrew Bretz and I’d like to try to put together a reading group for the Winter Semester.
My plan is simple: Let’s get together in Wilf’s around lunch once every month and read an early modern play together while having a pint.
This is not a requirement for any particular course; anyone can come, English student or not; there will be no attendance; you can come by late or leave early; it’s all just for the fun of reading a great play together! Funny voices and silly accents will be encouraged.
All texts will be provided on the date of the reading. You don’t have to read it ahead of time – in fact, I encourage you not to. It might spoil the joy of discovery.
If you want to just blow off some steam or if you want to read a play you probably won’t get a chance to read otherwise, then this is probably for you!
The schedule of events is below. Circle the dates in your calendar and I hope to see you there.

Reading club flyer

imageTamburlaine the Great

Author: Christopher Marlowe

Reading Date: 29 January @ Wilf’s


Tamburlaine the Great was Marlowe’s first great foray onto the public stage as a playwright and it is arguably his most influential play. It tells the true story of Timur the Lame, the shepherd who, through conquest, became the most powerful despot in central Asia since Genghis Khan. Over the top, full of bombast and stupendous arrogance, Tamburlaine is a larger than life character who influenced a whole generation of Elizabethan and Jacobean writers. This was, after all, the play that pioneered the use of blank verse on the stage and established the theatre as a site where great poetry could be performed.


Location: Wilf’s

Date: 2/26/2016


The barbarian queen who cowed the Romans into submission, only to be destroyed by those closest to her. The story of the flame-haired Celtic queen Bonduca revenging her daughters’ rapes by laying waste to the Roman occupying forces resonated in the years following Elizabeth’s death.


The Roaring GirlRoaring Girl

Location: Wilf’s

Date: 3/18/2016


She drinks, she smokes, she swears, she ROARS! Based on the actual historical figure, Moll Cutpurse, the main character in this City Comedy was a swaggering woman in breeches, fighting her way through a world that would really have rather much preferred if she would please put on a skirt… I mean, think of the children!

arden_pageArden of Faversham

Location: Wilf’s

Date: 4/8/2016


An Elizabethan era true crime story! The murder of the middle class Thomas Arden by his wife and her lover was not merely a cautionary tale for the period – it was a salacious scandal that rocked the nation!


Who to contact:

Andrew Bretz

abretz@wlu.ca  OR  andrew.bretz@gmail.com


Raise the Bar – Coming Out

Last night was Guelph’s Take Back the Night march, which I was happily involved in.  It was a wonderful experience.  The energy of the crowd, the positive vibes all around, the support from the streets – it was all a delight!  What I want to really mention though is that Raise the Bar was officially announced last night.  Hooray!

Before that – a side note.  The performance poet Truth Is spoke and delivered some of the most compelling, brilliant poetry I have heard in a long time.  I first heard Truth Is at the Angela Davis talk at the University of Guelph last year and my goodness, she was phenomenal!  I occasionally teach poetry and one thing that I have found very useful in terms of teaching poetry is showing how it is a living tradition.  People get bogged down in Donne, Whitman, Shakespeare.  When I brought to them living performance poets who speak to the experience of today – Katie Makkai, dbi young, and others – suddenly the students saw that they could be a part of this world of words.  I really have to learn more about Truth Is.

Anyhow, right, back to the Raise the Bar campaign!

Last night, Cindy McMann spoke and officially outed our little group.  We are working to end the culture of sexual predation, harassment, and violence around us by starting in our back yards – downtown Guelph.  The key to this is bystander intervention.  We have to make sure that everyone recognizes that sexual violence of any sort is unacceptable.

So we are launching a two part campaign – education in downtown establishments and a public education blitz.  Working with our community partners, we are putting together both wings of the campaign and we hope that we will have your support.

We haven’t quite started the website up yet and we are still building content for the public education blitz, but we are now official.  We’re out there.  We’re Raise the Bar… and you can help.

If you are interested in getting involved with Raise the Bar or you want to learn more about our initiative, please let me know.  andrew.bretz AT gmail DOT com