The Columns

W&L Theater Professor Wins 2015 Mednick Fellowship

— by on May 12th, 2015

Jemma Levy, assistant professor of theater at Washington and Lee University, has won the 2015 Mednick Fellowship from the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC).

The Mednick Fellowship encourages the professional development of college teachers through fellowships for research and advanced study. This year’s award will support Levy’s work to combine three of the earliest scripts of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” to create one to which all audiences can relate.

Levy’s new version will be staged by Muse of Fire Theatre Company in Evanston, Illinois, July 25-Aug. 30. Levy founder and artistic director of the company and has been directing professionally for almost 20 years.

“ ‘Hamlet’ is often considered the greatest play in the English language, but I have found that many productions of it feel stuffy and unappealing,” Levy said. “To me, however, it is a great play because Hamlet himself is incredibly human — full of confusion and conflict and questions about his place in the world.”

Levy is creating a script drawn from three sources — the 1603 “bad” quarto, 1604 “good” quarto and 1623 first folio editions of the play.

“This year’s Mednick Fellowship is an especially timely honor because it occurs during the academic year when W&L will celebrate the 400 years of William Shakespeare,” said Suzanne Keen, dean of W&L’s undergraduate College. “Performances before live audiences ensure that Shakespeare’s plays remain a vital part of our shared culture.”

The Maurice L. Mednick Memorial Fund is administered by VFIC was created in 1967 in memory of the young Norfolk industrialist who died from accidental causes. His family and business associates established the memorial fund to support his and their strong interest in higher education.

VFIC advances the distinctive values and strengths of its 15 member colleges by securing financial support from the private sector, increasing visibility, facilitating innovative and collaborative initiatives between the colleges, and supporting initiatives that ensure that this personalized educational experience remains an affordable choice for tomorrow’s citizen-leaders.