African Americans and Shakespeare

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Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 20

"Freedom, high-day! High-day, freedom! Freedom, high-day, freedom!"
The Tempest (2.2.192-193)

In this second of two podcasts on Shakespeare and the African American experience, "Freedom, Hey-Day! Hey-Day, Freedom!" examines some of the many ways—including, but not limited to, performance—that black Americans have encountered, responded to, taken ownership of, and sometimes turned away from Shakespeare's words.

Rebecca Sheir, host of the Shakespeare Unlimited series, narrates this expansive, interview-filled look at the intersection between African American life and Shakespeare, from stage productions to personal and academic encounters with the texts.

  • Kim Hall is a professor of English at Barnard College.
  • Caleen Sinnette Jennings is a professor of theater at American University in Washington, DC.
  • Bernth Lindfors is professor emeritus of history at the University of Texas.
  • Francesca Royster is a professor of English at DePaul University.
  • Shane White is a professor of history at the University of Sydney in Australia.

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From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series. © February 11, 2015. Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved.

Produced for the Folger Shakespeare Library by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. Edited by Gail Kern Paster and Esther Ferington.

We had help gathering material for the Shakespeare Unlimited series from Esther French. We also had help from Britta Greene and Anne Marie Baldonado at Fresh Air with Terry Gross, who gave us their 1987 recording of August Wilson.

Original music composed and arranged by Lenny Williams.

The title of this episode uses an alternate spelling ("hey-day") in quoting Caliban's exclamation; it is "high-day" in the Folger Digital Texts edition of The Tempest.

 

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Want more? Browse our full list of Shakespeare Unlimited episodes. Listen on SoundCloud, iTunes, Google Play, and NPR One.