What’s the most influential book for Shakespeare scholarship? The First Folio of 1623 immediately comes to mind for many. However, there’s another book, less famous but still incredibly important for Shakespeare scholars: Edward Gwynn’s set of Pavier Quartos, found in the Folger Shakespeare Library collection. Zachary Lesser takes a close look at the plays bound… Continue Reading »
A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream is one of William Shakespeare’s most popular plays, and for good reason. Frequently a young person’s introduction to the playwright’s work, it’s an entertaining comedy filled with magical fairies, earnest lovers, and funny mechanicals (as well as — in the best productions — intensely earnest mechanicals and lovers who are also… Continue Reading »
Elizabethan and Jacobean theatergoers encountered ‘Moor’ figures in plays such as Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, Othello, and The Merchant of Venice, to name a few. However, it was also possible to see blackness performed beyond the playhouse stage, publicly on the streets of London. Emblematic representations of Moors frequently featured in the annual Lord Mayor’s Day festivities, which celebrated the inauguration of the new mayor-elect of London every October,
The conversation around Shakespeare and hip-hop to date has tended to focus on either their linguistic malleability or the racial politics which surround the enmeshment of an originally African-American cultural movement with the work of a white playwright who, in the eyes of many, symbolizes English power and cultural authority. However, when artists reference Shakespeare’s name itself, to what uses do they put the playwright’s reputation and how do those purposes differ when his name is cited by artists of different ethnicities and genders?
In June, Ian McKellen will take the stage as the title character in Hamlet at the Theatre Royal Windsor. McKellen is no stranger to the role: he played Hamlet in Prospect Theatre Company’s touring production a half century ago. It may seem surprising to find an octogenarian—McKellen turns 82 this month—playing the part of the… Continue Reading »
Before there were Starbucks and the quirky coffeeshops masquerading as cozy work corners for many of us, there was the mid-17th century coffeeshop boom in England. During the 1600s, the general conversation about coffee nodded to its status as the Islamic other. Othello, the Shakespearean Moor, was turned into a villain and likened to coffee… Continue Reading »