Simon Fraser University Professor Paul Budra, our insightful Bard Explored lecturer, is back this season to help you unravel Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Measure For Measure and Elizabeth Rex. Paul told us about his love for Shakespeare, how he came to be involved with Bard on the Beach and gave us some fun facts about this seasons plays!

Paul: I did my doctoral work at the University of Toronto where I was lucky to study with some of Canada’s most distinguished Renaissance scholars and to work as a teaching assistant for Northrop Frye in his Shakespeare course. I moved to Vancouver in 1989 to take up a professorship at Simon Fraser University. As the only Shakespearean in the English Department for many years, I was able to teach every single Shakespeare play and to write the Distance Education Shakespeare course for the university.

I began my association with Bard in 2005 when I was invited to participate in a forum on Hamlet. I was involved in subsequent forums and, in 2009, Bard’s Director of Education, Mary Hartman, asked me to mount a series of lectures: one on each of the plays in Bard’s season and a more general pre-season lecture. I’ve done that every year since and I’ve worked with the directors and casts on a number of Bard productions. It’s been a wonderful way to meet Vancouver’s Shakespeare enthusiasts, work with the creative and energetic people at Bard (especially Mary, Christopher Gaze, and Dean Paul Gibson), and share my interest in Shakespeare with the broader community. My next Shakespeare adventures include writing a sequel to the Distance Education course, co-editing a collection of essays on Shakespeare and consciousness, and travelling across India this fall to lecture on Shakespeare. When not reading, writing, or speaking about Shakespeare, I tend to our crumbling family house in West Vancouver and play guitar in a rock band called The Dadolescents.

Paul Budra leading the Hamlet Forum in 2005

Did you know:

The text of Hamlet exists in three different versions? The earliest one contains the line, “To be, or not to be, aye, there’s the point.”

The “Twelfth Night” was the last day of the Elizabethan Christmas season, a feast day on which social inversion was encouraged and the person at a party who found a hidden bean in his piece of cake was crowned “King of the bean” for the night?

In the last years of her life, Queen Elizabeth I’s teeth turned black and some fell out? This affected her speech and made it difficult for ambassadors to understand her.

Measure For Measure contains references to syphilis, which the English called the French pox? (The French called it the English pox).

In 1566 a law was passed in England setting the limit on the length swords to “one yard and half-a-quarter of the blade”? Duelists wanted longer blades to gain an advantage in fights.

Find out even more about the plays and have a chat with Paul and other audience members in our informal, interactive Monday night Bard Explored Lectures on July 22, 29, August 12 & 19.