Richard Spoil, Shakespeare, Kim Hall discussed on All Things Considered

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Of the highlights of summer in New York City is Shakespeare in Central Park. But this year, the Delacorte Theater is closed because of the Corona virus. Instead, the public theater has joined with W. N Y C to present four nights of Shakespeare on the radio beginning tonight at 8 p.m. The show is Richard the second, which was to be one of the place presented outside this summer. And here to talk about it is the director Sahi, Molly and Kim Hall, an expert on Shakespeare and race at Barnard College. Thanks to you, both for being with us. Thank you for having me for having me. Sahi, Molly. Even listeners who are very familiar with Shakespeare may not have seen a production of Richard the second, much less have read the play. Can you give us a quick synopsis? And what were the special challenges you faced when adapting it for the radio? Yeah, Richard. The second is seldom done play their number of reasons for this primary one being that a context of the play is taking for granted. You were thrust into a social political situation that Doesn't get highlighted on an actual fact Kings. Uncle has been killed. The king's responsible for that death. Two men are about to fight because of that, Richard, the second doesn't get done very often. But I understand why diehard Shakespeare lovers like are absolutely nothing about this play. It is beautiful. It is rich. It is elegant. It is complex. And as long as you have, just like a little bit of information to go ahead with that you're on for an incredible rights. So you're kissed is composed primarily of people of color. Why was that important to you? That's important to me in my work In general, I center black, indigenous and people of color in my work. There's always someone who's by park at the center and for me and you that I was going to have a black king. In this play. Andrei Holland has been someone who had been speaking about this place for years being really interested in it. There's a roll of bowling brook, which is Richard Spoil. And that's the person who takes the crown from Richard and I want to have a black woman. Okay, that role. So Miriam Kleiman. She's playing Henry Bolingbroke, and she's not playing the role as a woman. She's playing it as a math on DSO Kim Hall when you hear about bowling Brook, this hugely significant figure in in The Shakespeare Cannon that power transfer from one person of color to another. But bowling Brook, a black woman playing a man. What does that say to you? How does that make you feel? I've been so moved by it. For me. A performance like this is the manifestation of a dream of freedom held since Frederick Douglass. In the 19th century, when Douglas was active. The best Shakespeare actors were itinerant Shakespeare readers who were performing Shakespeare alone because they were excluded from professional stages and so kind of race conscious casting. That scene is doing is really profound. As you suggest. The early black actors of Shakespeare's works had to fight their way in. Just say a little bit more. If you would Kim Hall about how our perceptions of black actors in these classical roles have changed. I don't think most people understand how ubiquitous blackface Wass. It was a global phenomenon. Popular culture seen as respectable educated. So if you look at a count of Black classical music productions or theater. They will complain that whites come in prepared toe let so it's a hard struggle for black actor. To be able to recognize that the height and depth of the human condition and in their full humanity Well, let me ask you, sir. He, Molly. Why not abandon The struggle of Shakespeare altogether. Why read centuries old white man? And why not begin to celebrate black voices? Black writers, black playwrights. I'm sure this is a critique and question an obvious one that you get all the time. What's the answer to that? You only do I get it, But I asked myself that very question too. And I did right before we were going to start reversing for Richard, the second of the radio and I reached out to some of the actors and we talked about it in our first rehearsal and resoundingly. Everyone spoke to the power of shape to be any reason because he really does still to the humanity off What connects us like what each of us Arrives for cares for yearns for Hertz, for It's the human condition at its essence, and one of my missions with Shakespeare is just destroying any barriers that people might think like. Oh, this is not for me because I'm the wrong race or I'm not educated enough. Shakespeare needs to be untethered from this notion that it is British, or that it is white. Because essence It is human. Kim Hall is the Lucille Hook, professor of English and professor of Africana Studies at Barnard College. Sahi. Molly is the director of the Joint Public Theater W N. Y. C production of Richard the second It starts tonight at 8 p.m. And runs for four nights thanks to you both very much. It was a great joy to be here. Thanks for having me. Thank you so much. It was a real delight..

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