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Shakespeare & Beyond

Shakespeare's roles in the Caribbean

Roxi Victorian as Hero (center) with the cast of Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Timothy Douglas, Folger Theatre, 2009, inspired by the DC Caribbean Carnival. Photo by Carol Pratt.

Shakespeare is deeply woven into the culture of the British Caribbean, where interest in his work persisted long after colonial rule ended. But is he a reflection of the British colonial past; the source of Caliban, often seen as a figure of anti-colonialism; or both of the above, and more?

Scholars Giselle Rampaul, a lecturer in Literatures in English at the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad, and Barrymore A. Bogues, the Director of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University, explored Shakespeare’s roles in the British Caribbean in a classic interview on the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Neva Grant spoke with Rampaul and Bogues.

These excerpts from the conversation take us from the fascinating role of Shakespeare in the Royal Reader primers used in schools after the end of enslavement, when education was a key colonial tool, to how Caliban in The Tempest became a key figure to many 20th and 21st century anti-colonial writers—with a look at Rampaul and Bogues’s encounters with Shakespeare in their own schooldays, too.

To learn more about the role of Shakespeare in different countries, check out our list of podcast episodes The Bard Around the World.