2016 Annual Conference of Modern Church

Performing the Faith: Shakespeare, the Theatre and Theology Today

11th-13th July 2016 

at High Leigh Conference Centre, Hoddesdon, Herts.

2016 is the 400th anniversary of the death of England’s – some would say, the world’s – greatest playwright.

Read Jonathan Clatworthy's account of the conference here
or click here to view the album of photos on Flickr.


Shakespeare’s links with religion are complex, but his plays contain much implicit (and occasionally more explicit) theology. And the very form of the drama owes much to religious traditions – even if the Church has at times viewed it with suspicion. To this day, whether on stage or on screen, drama – and not least the work of Shakespeare, staged and interpreted in ever-new ways - remains a most powerful medium for exploring truth and meaning. Liberal Christians, who read the books of Scripture, tradition and reason alongside each other, need also to learn to read this cultural phenomenon.

Programme: Click here to download

Keynote speaker: The Most Revd and Rt Hon Lord Rowan Williams of Oystermouth

Chair: Revd Dr Alison Milbank

Chaplain: Revd Dr Paul Edmondson

Speakers (with audio or text where available):

Alison Milbank

Revd Dr Alison Milbank

Associate Professor of Theology and Literature at the University of Nottingham. She contributed a paper on Apocalyptic readings: the Bible and the novel to our 2011 conference: Reading The Bible Today.
Introduction & Overview
pdf Download text as PDF
Beatrice Groves

Dr Beatrice Groves

Lecturer in Renaissance English Literature, Trinity College, Oxford
Measure for Measure and the mystery plays
audio Download text as PDF
Christian Coppa

Christian Coppa

Doctoral candidate at Cambridge in the Faculty of Divinity - his dissertation is on touch and the mediation of grace in Shakespeare's romances.
Mannerly Devotion: touches of grace in Romeo & Juliet
audio Listen / download mp3 (29 mins)
Vittorio Montemaggi

Prof Vittorio Montemaggi

Assistant Professor of Religion and Literature, University of Notre Dame, USA.
'Speak again': life, love and language in King Lear
pdf Download text as PDF
Jem Bloomfield

Prof Jem Bloomfield

Assistant Professor in Medieval and Early Modern Literature, University of Nottingham

Words of Power: Shakespeare & The Bible
audio Listen / download mp3 (29 mins)
Ronnie Mulryne

Prof Ronnie Mulryne

Professor emeritus, Centre fro the Study of the Renaissance, University of Warwick
King Lear: perception and the price of silence
audio Listen / download mp3 (72 mins)
Alicia Smith-Howard

Dr Alycia Smith-Howard

Shakespeare scholar and performance historian
The Gospel according to Shakespeare
audio Listen / download mp3 (35 mins)
r williams2016

The Most Revd and Rt Hon Lord Rowan Williams of Oystermouth

Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.Our keynote speaker has spoken and written much about the links between Shakespeare and theology.
audio Listen / download mp3 (45 mins)
 Paul Edmondson & Phillip Breen Conversation

Revd Dr Paul Edmondson

Head of Research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, in conversation with

Philip Breen

Director of the 2016 York Mystery Plays
audio Listen / download mp3 (69 mins)
 Graham Ward

Revd Canon Prof Graham Ward

Regius Professor of Divinity, Christ Church College, Oxford
Midsummer Night's Dream
audio Listen / download mp3 (45 mins)

Panel Discussion

with Christian Coppa, Graham Ward, Alison Milbank, Ronnie Mulryne and Vittorio Montemaggi
audio Listen / download mp3 (73 mins)
Summing Up

Summing Up

with Chair Alison Milbank & Chaplain Paul Edmondson
audio Listen / download mp3 (33 mins)