Demons land!

DemonslandProfessor Simon Palfrey, Tutor in English at Brasenose College has led on a multi-media event – film, play, paintings, sculptures, soundscapes, digital drama – in which a beautiful, violent, hallucinogenic poem comes uncannily and alarmingly to life.

Inspired by Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene, the greatest, guiltiest epic poem of its age, the project imagines the poem as the seminal text of subsequent history, repeating over and over to this day. Demons Land (like the Faerie Queene before it) becomes a dark allegory of colonisation - as a political and racial act, and as an expression of sexual desire and imaginative speculation.

Demons Land began some years ago when Simon ran intensive workshops with teenagers in multi-faith comprehensive schools. These workshops were the genesis of the play, which offers the fullest version of the Demons Land story.

Commenting on the project, Simon said: ‘I tried to imagine what it would be like if you tried to build a world in the image of a poem, to live in an artificial world of endlessly repeating stanzas or to be an allegorical character embodying virtue – it could be a dreamy thing or a terrifying tyrannical thing,’

As well as teaching undergraduate English students at Brasenose College, Simon was co-curator of the major Bodleian exhibition, Shakespeare’s Dead. His books include Doing Shakespeare, Shakespeare in Parts (with Tiffany Stern), Shakespeare’s Possible Worlds, Poor Tom, and the novel Macbeth, Macbeth (with Ewan Fernie).

Demons Land has been funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH), the John Fell Fund, and the Australian Research Council. Simon collaborates with filmmaker Mark Jones and artist Tom de Freston on the project.

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