A new play festival inspired by and in conversation with Shakespeare
Women's empowerment. Violence, politics and civil rights. Conflicts of racial identities. The generational toll of the justice system. This is Shakespeare?
Kick off the new year with a weekend of incredible art and theater with Folger Theatre and The Reading Room - a can't miss festival featuring powerful performances of four bold new works inspired by, in response to, and in conversation with the Bard himself.
Brought to life by an unrivaled group of dynamic actors, the original plays and performances are conducted by distinguished playwrights - Lauren Gunderson, Al Letson, Reynaldo Piniella & Emily Lyon, Malik Work& Karen Ann Daniels, and directors - Nicole Brewer, Eddie DeHais, Tatiana Pandiani and Devin E. Haqq. Each reading will be followed by a moderated conversation with the playwrights and questions from the audience.
bilingual adaption by Reynaldo Piniella and Emily Lyon, translation by Christin Eve Cato, directed by Tatiana Pandiani, Cynthia Santos-DeCure, voice and text coach
Thursday, January 19, 2023 at 7:30pm
A radical bilingual reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet created by Reynaldo Piniella and Emily Lyon, with translation by Christin Eve Cato, takes us to the streets of El Barrio as Shakespeare’s text is infused with the Spanish spoken in the streets of present-day New York City. Hamlet is a Black and Latinx prince whose sense of identity has been fractured by the loss of his Black father. Using Spanish to express and explore his sense of loss, our Hamlet ponders, “Ser o no ser, esa es la cuestión.” Tempted once again to continue the cycle of revenge, we are asked to ponder, “how can we find healing in the face of tragedy?”
With Classical Theatre of Harlem
Our Verse in Time to Come
by Malik Work and Karen Ann Daniels, in collaboration with and directed by Devin E. Haqq, John Proctor III, dramaturg, Danica Rodriguez, casting director
Friday, January 20, 2023 at 7:30pm
An aging emcee, affectionately known as SOS, gets out of prison after 25 years only to be diagnosed with early onset dementia. Realizing it’s his last chance to reconnect with his children, he engages an old family friend and legal ally to arrange his estate and ensure his now grown twins, Vi and Will, accept it before his memory slips away for good. Reuniting to sort out their father’s inheritance, the estranged siblings uncover more than they bargained for. Along their journey, they meet storytellers who hold pieces of the puzzle that unlock their hearts and offer renewed connection to their heritage, community and father. Inspired by the works and words of Shakespeare, Our Verse in Time to Come, bridges the past with the present through verse, song and memory, and interrogates whose stories remain and whose role it is to ensure they survive.
Commissioned by Folger Shakespeare Libarary to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the printing of Shakespeare's First Folio
by Al Letson, directed by Nicole Brewer, John Proctor III, dramaturg
Saturday, January 21, 2023 at 2:00pm*
Julius X is a re-envisioning of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar that puts a whole new spin on the assassinated leader and those who conspired against him. Set in 1965, Julius X amalgamates the lives of Julius Caesar and slain civil rights leader Malcolm X, weaving the text of Shakespeare with bits of African mythology and performance poetry.
“IN TRUE MIX-’EM-UP FASHION, Al Letson Jr. has taken the violence, politics, and otherworldliness of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and smashed it into the history and mythology of Malcolm X." – Baltimore City Paper
A Room in the Castle
by Lauren Gunderson, directed by Eddie DeHais, Michele Osherow, dramaturg
Saturday, January 21, 2023 at 7:30pm*
A Room in the Castle finds Ophelia, her handmaid, and her Queen Gertrude on the other end of a wild prince's antics and realizing just how dangerous life in this castle has become. How does a woman survive the court of Denmark - whether an ingenue or a queen? How can any of these women survive the mayhem heading directly for them? As Ophelia withstands Hamlet's assaults and insults, Gertrude comes to see how far gone her son truly is. What is she willing to risk to save Ophelia and herself if it means turning against her problematic child? A mediation on women helping women, what mothering a potential madman means and what responsibility generations of feminists have to one another, A Room in the Castle rebrands the stories of the women of Shakespeare's Hamlet into a drama with music and defiant hope for the future.
With Cincinnati Shakespeare Company
The Reading Room Conversations
Anti-Racism and Shakespeare
Saturday, January 21 at 11am
Nicole Brewer, Kaja Dunn, and Dr. John Proctor III discuss how anti-racism approaches can be applied to theatrical practices and Shakespearean performances.
Lauren Gunderson and Al Letson*
Saturday, January 21 at 5:30pm
Leading contemporary playwrights Lauren Gunderson and Al Letson share their creative processes and apporaches to Shakespeare adaptation in a lively conversation with Matré Grant.
Each reading is followed by a conversation with the playwrights, directors, members of the press, and scholars.
* This event or performance will have an ASL interpreter.