About us

Paper Stage photo 1

The Paper Stage is a student and public play-reading project dedicated to the extraordinary and diverse drama of the Renaissance. It has societies based in Surrey and Kent in the UK, and an Italian society – Il Palcoscenico di Carta – based in Mantua.

A number of exceptionally talented playwrights flourished in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and yet today the period is dominated by prominent figure of Shakespeare. Our monthly events offer the chance to experience this golden age of theatre through participatory and experimental group readings that place you at the heart of the plays. We read a wide range of plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, from Middleton’s bawdy city comedies to Kyd and Webster’s bloody revenge tragedies, from the lyrical heights of Marlowe’s solioquising protagonists to the earthy wit of Jonson’s fraudsters. These plays present worlds that will seduce, excite and horrify in equal measure, but also perhaps offer a mirror for our own cultural moment.

The events are free and open to the public as well as students and academics. The Paper Stage is run by Dr Harry Newman, Lecturer in Shakespeare and Early Modern Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London. Those who would like to read a part (whether small, medium or large) at the next event should email harry.newman@rhul.ac.uk. Listeners are also very welcome.

To follow us on Twitter, search for @ThePaperStage, and feel free to tweet about your Paper Stage experiences: #paperstage. Follow this link to see the latest tweets.


19 May 2014 (CANTERBURY, UK): William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

23 June 2014 (CANTERBURY, UK): Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta

15 Sept 2014 (CANTERBURY, UK): John Lyly, Gallathea

13 Oct 2014 (CANTERBURY, UK): Anonymous, Arden of Faversham

18 Nov 2014 (CANTERBURY, UK): Ben Jonson, Sejanus

8 Dec 2014 (CANTERBURY, UK): John Webster, The White Devil

2 Feb 2015 (CANTERBURY, UK): John Lyly, Endymion, or the Man in the Moon

16 March 2015 (CANTERBURY, UK): Thomas Heywood, A Woman Killed with Kindness

24 March 2015 (CANTERBURY, UK): Thomas Dekker, John Ford and William Rowley, The Witch of Edmonton (guest hosted by Dr Lucy Munro from King’s College London, using her forthcoming edition for Arden Early Modern Drama)

7, 14, 21 May 2015 (MANTUA, ITALY): William Shakespeare, Romeo e Giulietta, translated by Salvatore Quasimodo

15, 22 and 29 Sept 2015 (MANTUA, ITALY): Christopher Marlowe, Il Dottor Faust, translated by Nemi D’Agostino

12 Oct 2015 (CANTERBURY, UK): Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus

13 Oct 2015 (SURREY, UK): William Shakespeare, King Lear

27 Oct 2015 (SURREY, UK): Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus

17 Nov 2015 (SURREY, UK): William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

24 Nov 2015 (CANTERBURY, UK): Thomas Middleton, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside

18 Jan 2016 (SURREY, UK): William Shakespeare, The Tempest

11 Feb 2016 (SURREY, UK): William Shakespeare, Coriolanus

25 Feb 2016 (SURREY, UK): Medieval Noah Play, Townley and Chester Cycles 

14 Mar 2016 (SURREY, UK): William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1 (part of Runnymede International Literary Festival 2016)

13 Oct 2016 (SURREY, UK): Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta

27 Oct 2016 (SURREY, UK): John Ford, Tis Pity She’s a Whore

24 Nov 2016 (SURREY, UK): Thomas Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy

9 Nov 2017 (SURREY, UK): Thomas Middleton and William Rowley, The Changeling

23 Nov 2017 (SURREY, UK): John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi

5 Feb 2018 (SURREY, UK): William Shakespeare, Hamlet, the First Quarto

20 Feb 2018 (MANTUA, ITALY): Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Il Critico [The Critic], translated by Masolino D’Amico

6 Sept 2018 (MANTUA, ITALY): Molière, Il Sicilano, o l’Amor Pittore [The Sicilian, or Love the Painter]

1 Oct 2018 (CANTERBURY, UK): Thomas Dekker, The Shoemaker’s Holiday

22 Oct 2018 (CANTERBURY, UK): William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night



The Paper Stage is a research-driven project which uses practice-based methods to experiment with a wide variety of Renaissance drama and to bring scholars into a productive dialogue with students and members of the public. All participants are valued as co-researchers and given the opportunity to offer input. The following questions are central to our research aims:

Q. What can student and public play-readings teach us about the accessibility of Renaissance drama to modern society?

Q. What is the pedagogical/interpretive value of ‘embodying’ or ‘inhabiting’ dramatic texts through communal reading?

Q. What can we learn about the relationship between reading and performance, and the interpretive processes involved in reading out-loud to others, an activity which sits somewhere between silent reading and watching stage productions?

Q. How might we understand the play-reading group as a modern social and cultural phenomenon?

Q. How can play-reading groups benefit society by contributing to community formation?


To find out about the study of Shakespeare and Renaissance literature at Royal Holloway, check out the undergraduate modules EN1106 Shakespeare, EN2011 Intensive Shakespeare: Comedy, History, Tragedy, EN2010 Love, Honour, Obey: Literature 1625-1670EN3011 Advanced Shakespeare: The Problem Plays, EN3014 Early Modern Bodies, EN3125 Character and Selfhood in Early Modern Literature, and the postgraduate MA in Shakespeare. More details are available on request from harry.newman@rhul.ac.uk.