Posts Tagged: Shakespeare in American Life

Duke Ellington’s Such Sweet Thunder: Shakespeare and jazz

It’s been 60 years since Duke Ellington recorded Such Sweet Thunder, a jazz suite based on Shakespeare’s plays. Eleven songs are linked to Shakespearean characters like Othello and Lady Macbeth, and the final number is a tribute to Shakespeare himself.


What makes Shakespeare musicals ‘American’

While Shakespeare musicals borrowed plots, characters, and situations from England’s best-known poet, they remained essentially “American.”



Orson Welles and the Voodoo ‘Macbeth’ that launched his directing career

Can you feel the feverish excitement in the air? This photograph from April 14, 1936, shows the crowded streets outside the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem on opening night for the Federal Theatre Project’s Macbeth, directed by a young Orson Welles. (He was only 20 years old!) The Federal Theatre Project’s Negro Unit was a New Deal program under the… Continue Reading »


Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, and the president’s assassination

Growing up on the frontier, Abraham Lincoln had few books to read in his early days—but among them were the works of Shakespeare, which Lincoln cherished throughout his life. The actor Joseph Jefferson later told the story of how Lincoln, as a young lawyer, successfully defended his father’s Illinois theater when a religious revival threatened… Continue Reading »