Announcing our third Shakespeare and Race festival

  Our annual festival goes digital this August with a series of online events, exclusive content and workshops, filmed in our candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

3 minute read

Here at Shakespeare’s Globe, we have a responsibility to talk honestly about the period from which Shakespeare emerged, and to facilitate difficult conversations about the ways in which race is represented in theatre and Shakespeare Studies.

Originally launched in 2018, our inaugural Shakespeare and Race festival was conceived and curated by our very own Professor Farah Karim-Cooper to highlight the importance of race in the consideration of Shakespeare – not only in his time, but more urgently, in our own – and to give a platform to scholars, actors, writers, theatre-makers and educators of colour.

A red graphic saying the words 'Shakespeare and Race'

Our third Shakespeare and Race festival goes digital this month, with a series of online events, exclusive content and workshops from 21 – 23 August 2020.

In a first for Shakespeare’s Globe, and due to the worldwide pandemic, our third Shakespeare and Race festival goes digital this month, with a series of online events, exclusive content and workshops from 21 – 23 August 2020, filmed from our candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. This year our festival is jointly curated by Professor Farah Karim-Cooper, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith and Michelle Terry, and is an opportunity for all around the world to join in these vital conversations on Shakespeare and race.

A camera is recording
The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse has new broadcast-quality cameras (provided by Karma) for the first time to capture the festival and future events whilst social distancing is in place. Photographer: Claudia Conway.

This year’s Shakespeare and Race festival will launch on Friday 21 August with a two-part film, Behind Closed Doors: Romeo and Juliet, offering an insight in to our summer 2020 production of Romeo and Juliet (which started rehearsals shortly before the UK-wide lockdown in March). Director Ola Ince and actors Alfred Enoch, Rebekah Murrel and Sargon Yelda join Professor Farah Karim-Cooper and psychotherapist Rachael Williams for an honest conversation about race, beauty, femininity and mental health – as well as considering their roles as artists and assessing the impact of Shakespeare’s language on audiences across the world.

Three actors face the camera smiling

Behind closed doors: Romeo and Juliet, offers an insight in to our summer 2020 production of Romeo and Juliet, and features (from L-R), Actor Alfred Enoch, Director Ola Ince, and Actor Rebekah Murrell. Photographer: Claudia Conway.

Our Sam Wanamaker Playhouse will once more ring with the sound of forgotten female voices with the return of Notes to the Forgotten She-Wolves. Three filmed monologues celebrate three extraordinary women of colour: these monologues write back into history Bessie Coleman, the first woman and person of colour to hold a pilot’s licence; Una Marson, the first woman of colour to broadcast for the BBC; and Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner, a woman of colour who invented the sanitary belt. The ground-breaking Company includes playwrights Nicôle Lecky, Winsome Pinnock and Amanda Wilkin, and actors Jade Anouka and Sarah Nilestar, with Amanda Wilkin performing her own piece.

An actor stands on a stage that is dark and lit by candles

Our Sam Wanamaker Playhouse will once more ring with the sound of forgotten female voices with the return of Notes to the Forgotten She-Wolves. Actor Jade Anouka performs Nicôle Lecky’s monologue on Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner. Photographer: Charlotte Horobin.

To mark International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition on 23 August, In Conversation: Reckoning with our Past sees novelist and academic Preti Taneja; Historian and President of the Royal Historical Society, Margot Finn; and actor and director Elliot Barnes-Worrell join our very own Professor Farah Karim-Cooper to discuss British history, the colonial past, racial identity and how best to tell our collective stories.

Continuing the success of our summer Zoom online workshops, throughout the weekend, online anti-racist workshop sessions for 8-14 year olds will explore The Tempest and Othello, uncovering key themes in a fun, interactive and playful environment. We’ll also be offering a practical and interactive online CPD workshop for teachers, focusing on an anti-racist approach to teaching Shakespeare in the classroom and drawing on his plays Othello, The Merchant of the Venice and The Tempest.

A graphic that reads 'this island's mine?'
A graphic reading 'haply for I am black'
A graphic that reads CPD teaching anti-racist Shakespeare

 

Series six of our podcast, Such Stuff, also launches today, and is dedicated to Shakespeare and race. Special guests over the series, including artists Sarah Amankwah, Adjoa Andoh, Jade Anouka, Federay Holmes, Steven Kavuma and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, plus academics Dr Steven Garner, Dr Shona Hunter, Dr Will Tosh, Dr Ruben Espinosa, and Dr Ambereen Dadabhoy, will question: How do we decolonise the works of Shakespeare, the way they are read, the way they are taught, and the way they are performed?

Three people stand on a stage and face the camera

“At Shakespeare’s Globe, we take our cause seriously – Shakespeare for all. It is not virtue signalling, nor is it about Shakespeare’s ‘universality’. Shakespeare has for centuries been performed, studied and read primarily through the lens of white excellence. As the custodians of Shakespeare’s most iconic theatres, we have a responsibility to talk honestly about the period from which he emerged and challenge the racist structures that remain by providing greater access to the works and demonstrating how Shakespeare speaks powerfully to our moment.”

— Professor Farah Karim-Cooper, Head of Higher Education and Research at Shakespeare’s Globe. Pictured with Michelle Terry and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, co-curators of the Shakespeare and Race festival. Photographer: Claudia Conway.

Throughout next week, we’ll also be opening the conversation to you, our audiences, via our social platforms and blogs, as we ask difficult, but vital, questions about the ways in which race is represented in theatre and Shakespeare Studies, and challenge the racist structures that remain from the period in which Shakespeare was writing his works.

For our online Shakespeare and Race events, exclusive content and workshops, we ask that you pay what you can depending what ticket price works for you. We firmly believe that Shakespeare is for all, and hope you can join us as we work towards a more equal world.

FINIS.

Discover all events, content and workshops as part of our third Shakespeare and Race festival this 21 – 23 August 2020, and book your tickets.

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