Shakespeare's words come alive again in the reading of Richard II for the 12th Annual Shakespeare and the Law Series. Co-sponsored by Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, law firm McCarter & English LLP, the Boston Lawyer's Chapter of the Federalist Society, and Suffolk University, the reading boasts an all-star cast from Boston's legal community, including former federal judge Nancy Gertner as Richard II. A panel discussion on the legal and political consequences of when a king or a president goes too far follows the reading. The participants will discuss the uses and abuses of executive power by Presidents Obama and George H. W. Bush.
Hosted and moderated by C. Boyden Gray, former White House Counsel to President George H.W. Bush and Ambassador to the European Union, the reading will be directed by Steven Maler, Artistic Director of Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. The event will be held at The Modern Theatre at Suffolk University, 525 Washington Street, on January 17 at 5:30 PM and is free and open to the public.
Richard II, written around 1595, is the first play in Shakespeare's second "history tetralogy," a seriesof four plays that chronicles the rise of the house of Lancaster to the British throne. (Its sequel plays are Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2, and Henry V.) The play is written entirely in verse and contains some of the most beautiful passages in all of Shakespeare's works. Set in the year 1398, it chronicles Henry Bolinbroke's (later Henry IV) use of power and popular support to depose and ultimately murder Richard II, England's last king of the house of Plantagenet. Richard's undoing is caused by the exploitation of his kingly powers to subvert laws accepted and supported by the people - the right to be secure in their lands, the laws of inheritance, laws against excessive taxation.