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Former British Cabinet Secretary to discuss Shakespeare, Globe Theatre and the war in Iraq

A former British Cabinet Secretary and an expert on the Globe Theatre will discuss the war in Iraq and Wake Forest’s Ronald Watkins Collection, an extensive collection of books, papers and lectures on Shakespeare, on Thursday, Jan. 21.

Lord Robin Butler, Master of University College, Oxford, and a Cabinet Secretary under Prime Ministers Edward Heath, Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, will discuss “Iraq: Why did the intelligence go so horribly wrong?” at a noon luncheon for faculty across campus in the Worrell Professional Center. Lord Butler and his wife, Lady Butler, became friends with School of Law Dean Blake Morant and his wife, P.J., when Dean Morant was on a visiting fellowship at University College, Oxford.

In 2004 he led a major investigation of the British decision to go to war in Iraq. The document produced by that investigation, known as the “Butler Report,” concluded that some of the intelligence about Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction was flawed.

Provost Emeritus and Professor of English Edwin G. Wilson (’43) and Lord Butler will discuss Shakespeare, the Globe Theatre and the significance of the Watkins collection at 3 p.m. in

the Rare Books Room (6th Floor) of ZSR Library. Lord Butler is a former student of Watkins, a Shakespeare scholar and state director. The talk is free and open to the public.

“I was a pupil of Ronald Watkins and acted in four plays on the Harrow Globe stage under his direction and I have been a Trustee for the London Shakespeare’s Globe,” Butler said. “At Wake, I should love to spend some time talking about the Shakespeare Globe Theatre and the use being made of the archive of my revered old teacher, Ronald Watkins, which has been deposited there.”

Watkins donated his collection of papers and other works on Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre to the Z. Smith Reynolds Library in 1999 because of his friendship with James Dodding, now retired professor of theatre. The collection includes Watkins’ personal correspondence, extensively annotated prompt books and other production notes, lecture notes, drafts of books and articles, art work, reviews and other clippings, photographs, sound recordings, and personal memorabilia..

Watkins taught for many years at Harrow School, where he produced Shakespeare plays with student actors on a stage modeled after the Globe Theatre. In his stage productions, lectures and writings, Watkins argued for the primacy of language in Shakespeare’s plays and attempted to discover and replicate how Shakespeare himself staged and produced the plays. His primary focus, “The Cause” as he called it throughout his career, was to recreate Shakespeare’s plays in the way Shakespeare himself would have presented them in Elizabethan England.