Critical Race Conversations: Shakespeare and Race in Performance

Tyler Fauntleroy, Rosa Joshi, and Farah Karim-Cooper

Thursday, December 10, 2020, 3:00 pm
This conversation was originally recorded on December 10, 2020

Whether as members of audiences or readers of Shakespeare, we all have our various pathways into his works. So do actors, directors, and those with institutional commitments to anti-racist practices in the fields of Shakespeare studies and performance. In this session of "Critical Race Conversations," Tyler Fauntleroy, Rosa Joshi, and Farah Karim-Cooper discuss the ways theatrical practice, history, and theory inform each other, even as they work with different vocabularies and starting points. From their lived experiences, they ask what we have to learn and unlearn about the effects of elitism and gatekeeping in stagecraft. How can the rehearsal space address unconscious biases that give rise to and may perpetuate color-blindness? Where might we go from here with our engagements with Shakespeare and race in performance?


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Tyler Fauntleroy is a New York based actor and singer. Tyler attended Virginia Commonwealth University where he earned a BFA in Theatre with a concentration in Performance. Tyler’s regional theatre credits include 1 Henry IV at Folger Theatre where he played Hotspur, Romeo and Juliet (Westport Country Playhouse), and Next to Normal (Syracuse Stage), among others. He has made appearances in television shows such as Succession, FBI, and The Oath. Tyler recently originated a lead role in New Federal Theatre’s production of Looking For Leroy, for which he received an Audelco “Viv” Award, an award celebrating excellence in black theatre in New York City.

Rosa Joshi is a director, producer and educator. Her directing work spans from Shakespeare to modern classics and contemporary plays. Her work has appeared at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Seattle Shakespeare Company, as well as at Folger Theatre, where she directed 2019's 1 Henry IV. In 2006, she co-founded upstart crow collective, a company committed to presenting classical plays with diverse female/non-binary casts.  For upstart crow she has directed major productions of Richard III (in partnership with Seattle Shakespeare Company), Bring Down the House (in association with with Oregon Shakespeare Company), Titus Andronicus, and King John. As Interim Artistic Director of Northwest Asian American Theatre, Joshi produced a range of Asian American performance including: A-Fest, an international performance festival; Traces, a world premiere multi-disciplinary, multi-media, international collaborative work; and the work of Chay Yew, Susie Kozawa, and Eugenie Chan, among others. She also served as a Resident Director and Artistic Director of the Second Company at New City Theater. Joshi is currently the Chair of Performing Arts and Arts Leadership at Seattle University where she teaches directing and theatre history in the Theatre program. She has taught at Hong Kong University, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, and has directed at Cornish College of the Arts.

Dr. Farah Karim-Cooper is Professor of Shakespeare Studies, King’s College London and Head of Higher Education & Research at Shakespeare’s Globe. She is Vice-President of the Shakespeare Association of America. She is on the Advisory Council for the Warburg Institute and has held Visiting fellowships around the world. She leads the architectural enquiries into early modern theatres at Shakespeare’s Globe, overseeing the research into the design and construction of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the Globe’s indoor Jacobean theatre. She has written two books: Cosmetics in Shakespearean and Renaissance Drama (Edinburgh University Press, 2006, revised ed. 2019) and The Hand on the Shakespearean Stage: Gesture, Touch and the Spectacle of Dismemberment (Arden 2016). Dr. Karim-Cooper is currently writing a book on Shakespeare and race. In 2018 she curated the Globe’s first Shakespeare and Race Festival and is an executive board member for RaceB4Race, a consortium of Scholars and institutions that seek racial justice in the field of pre-modern literary studies. In the UK she is creating the first ever Scholars of Colour network.