Shakespeare and Race at Shakespeare's Globe

Interior of the Globe Theatre, London

Shakespeare and Race, a two-day public event, innovatively fused archival research, research-in-action, and engagement with stake-holder groups, theatre professionals, and the public. Matthew Dimmock, Professor of Early Modern Studies, and Andrew Hadfield, Professor of English, organised the online event with Shakespeare’s Globe in November 2020. Participants included directors, actors, theatre companies, drama students and teachers across the UK.

The opening up of early modern English drama and its largely unknown preoccupation with non-European characters and locations has an obvious and important role to play in decolonising the repertoire and the curriculum. Shakespeare and Race built on work already begun in this area at Sussex as well as the Globe. The project was driven by the need to demonstrate the cultural and racial diversity of early modern drama on a public stage, and to explore how that drama might inform and enrich contemporary debates about identity in the wake of Black Lives Matter.

The event drew together their research and included a series of public events: an initial lecture (Ndiaye, Chicago), a pedagogic workshop (chaired by Hadfield), and sequence of short films staging early modern scenes of race and desire followed by a panel discussion (in which Dimmock participated). In those films, facilitated by Dimmock and Hadfield and involving professional actors from the Globe, largely unknown plays (Soliman and Perseda; Lust’s Dominion) were placed alongside Shakespeare’s Othello to pose provocative questions about the canon, Shakespeare, and conceptions of race.

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