The Public and LAByrinth Theater Co Announce Sunday Speaker Series for OTHELLO, Runs Thru 10/4

The Public Theater (Artistic Director Oskar Eustis; Executive Director Andrew D. Hamingson) and LAByrinth Theater Company will present a FREE discussion series tied to its current production of OTHELLO running through Sunday, October 4 the NYU Skirball Center. Prior to the Sunday matinee performances, Director Peter Sellars and The Public Theater will gather prominent artists, academics, activists, and community leaders to introduce, discuss and contextualize this production. Admission is FREE and the series is open to the general public.

The discussion series will take place on the OTHELLO stage at the NYU Skirball Center (566 LaGuardia Place) on September 20, 27, and October 4, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. The lobby opens at 2:15 PM and it is first come, first served.

The discussion on Sunday, September 20 will be "‘The Divine Desdemona': Women as Pillars of Our Communities," featuring panelists Anuradha K. Bhagwati, a Marine Corps veteran and Executive Director of Service Women's Action Network; Meghan Rhoad, Women's Rights Division, Human Rights Watch; and Robin Morgan, award winning author and founder of the Sisterhood Is Global Institute.

The discussion on Sunday, September 27 will be "‘Haply for I Am Black': Reclaiming Othello From Its Controversial Production History," featuring panelists Harry Elam, Professor of Drama, Stanford University; and Ayanna Thompson, Professor of English, Arizona State University.

The final discussion on Sunday, October 4 will be "‘Is It Possible?': Othello in the Age of Obama," featuring panelists Luis Argueta, documentary filmmaker; Mary Schmidt Campbell, Dean of Tisch School of the Arts; Majora Carter, founder of Sustainable South Bronx; and Carmen Peláez, playwright and actress (Rum & Coke).

All three discussions will be moderated by Dr. Avery T. Willis, who has collaborated with Peter Sellars as an assistant director and dramaturg since 2006.

"OTHELLO is the most famous piece of art in Western culture depicting a black man in a leadership position. In the age of Obama, this play needs to yield new meanings," said Director Peter Sellars. "These conversations will create a very different listening space for the Shakespearean text and offer an opportunity to deepen the national debate about race and gender."

The complete cast for OTHELLO, which officially opens on Sunday, September 27, features Julian Acosta as Roderigo; Gaius Charles as Duke of Venice; Jessica Chastain as Desdemona; Liza Colon-Zayas as Emilia; Saidah Arrika Ekulona as Bianca Montano; Philip Seymour Hoffman as Iago; LeRoy McClain as Cassio; and John Ortiz as Othello.

LUIS ARGUETA (documentary filmmaker): Critically acclaimed director of The Silence of Neto, Luis Argueta, along with co-producer Vivian Rivas, are in the post-production stage of abUSed - The Postville Raid, the full-length documentary that tells the story of the most brutal, most expensive, and one of the largest Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in the history of the United States. By weaving together the personal stories of the individuals, the families, and the town directly affected by the events of May 12, 2008, the film presents the human face of the issue of immigration reform and serves as a cautionary tale against abuses of constitutional human rights. In addition to the film, abUSed - The Postville Raid Archives is an audio-visual collection of the interviews recorded in the making of the documentary that will serve as the collective memory of a paradigmatic event on the quest for humane and comprehensive immigration reform in the United States.

ANURADHA K. BHAGWATI (Executive Director of Service Women's Action Network). Anu is the Executive Director of Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), a national non-profit human rights organization devoted to meeting the needs of servicewomen and women veterans, based out of New York City. Anu is a Marine Corps veteran who left the service at the rank of Captain in 2004. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Yale University and a Masters of Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government, where she focused on international human rights policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Anu founded and teaches a free weekly yoga class to veterans of all eras and ages in New York City. She is also a writer. Anu has spoken to countless audiences on the challenges faced by military women, including Military Sexual Trauma (sexual harassment, assault and rape), Domestic Violence, discrimination on the basis of gender and race, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, the VA health care and benefits system, and homelessness among women veterans.

Mary Schmidt Campbell (Dean of the Tisch School of the Arts, Chair and Professor, Art and Public Policy) has been dean of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts since 1991. Dean Campbell holds a B.A. degree in English literature from Swarthmore College, an M.A. in art history from Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. in humanities, also from Syracuse. She is co-author of Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1987) and Memory and Metaphor: The Art of Romare Bearden, 1940-1987 (New York: Oxford University Press & The Studio Museum in Harlem, 1991). She is the co-editor of Artistic Citizenship: A Public Voice for the Arts (New York: Routledge, 2006.) She is currently working on a book on Romare Bearden for Oxford University Press, (2011 expected publication date). She sits on the board of The American Academy in Rome and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. In the fall of 2001 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She served as chair of the New York State Council on the arts from 2007-2009.

MAJORA CARTER (Founder, Sustainable South Bronx) simultaneously addresses public health, poverty alleviation, and climate change as one of the nation's pioneers in successful green-collar job training and placement systems. She founded Sustainable South Bronx in 2001 to achieve environmental justIce Through economically sustainable projects informed by community needs. Her work has garnered numerous awards and accolades including a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, one of Essence Magazine's 25 Most Influential African-Americans in 2007, and one of the New York Post's Most Influential NYC Women for the past two years. She is a board member of the Wilderness Society, SJF, and CERES; and hosts a special national public radio series called "The Promised Land" ( Her work now includes advising cities, foundations, universities, businesses, and communities around the world on unlocking their green-collar economic potential to benefit everyone as President of the Majora Carter Group, LLC.

PROFESSOR HARRY ELAM (Professor of Drama, Stanford University) is the Olive H. Palmer Professor in the Humanities; the Robert and Ruth Halperin University Fellow for Undergraduate Education; Professor Drama; Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts; and the Senior Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Stanford University. He is author and editor of six books, as well as journals in Israel, Taiwan and Poland and several critical anthologies. Professor Elam is also the outgoing editor of Theatre Journal and on the editorial boards of Atlantic Studies, Journal of American Drama and Theatre, and Modern Drama. Currently he is working on a book on Mixed Race performance in the U.S. and Coloured Performance in South Africa with his wife, Professor Michele Elam.

ROBIN MORGAN (award winning author and Founder of The Sisterhood Is Global Institute) is an award-winning writer, feminist leader, political theorist, journalist, and editor, Robin Morgan has published over 20 books, including six of poetry, four of fiction, and the now-classic anthologies Sisterhood Is Powerful, Sisterhood Is Global, and Sisterhood Is Forever. A founder of contemporary US feminism, she has also been a leader in the international women's movement for 25 years. Her latest books include Saturday's Child: A Memoir, her best-selling The Demon Lover: The Roots of Terrorism, her historical novel, The Burning Time, about women fighting the Inquisition, and her latest nonfiction work, Fighting Words: A Toolkit for Combating the Religious Right. Morgan and Simone de Beauvoir co-founded The Sisterhood Is Global Institute, now celebrating its 25th Anniversary of work for women's rights and freedoms internationally.

CARMEN PELÁEZ (Actress and Playwright) was born in Miami to Cuban parents. Grand-niece to the revered painter, Amelia Peláez and radio star Ernesto Galindo, she continues her family's artistic expression of life's challenges filtered through the Cuban experience in her ferociously comic and moving one-person play, Rum & Coke.

MEGHAN RHOAD (Women's Rights Division, Human Rights Watch) is the United States researcher for the Women's Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, where her research focuses on violence against women and reproductive health. She is the author of the March 2009 Human Rights Watch report, Detained and Dismissed: Women's Struggles to Obtain Health Care in United States Immigration Detention. Rhoad was formerly a women's law & public policy fellow at the National Women's Law Center in Washington, DC, where she researched federal judicial nominations and analyzed policy developments affecting the economic security of low-income women and their families. Her previous work includes international advocacy projects using the human rights framework to address issues such as reproductive health and gender discrimination in inheritance law. Rhoad is a graduate of Harvard University and Georgetown University Law Center.

PROFESSOR AYANNA THOMPSON (Professor of English, Arizona State University) is Associate Professor of English at Arizona State University, where she is also an affiliate faculty in Women & Gender Studies and Film & Media Studies. She specializes in Renaissance drama and focuses on issues of race and performance. She is the author of two books: Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America (forthcoming, Oxford University Press) and Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage (Routledge, 2008), and the editor of two books: Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance (forthcoming, Palgrave Macmillan) (co-edited with Scott Newstok) and Colorblind Shakespeare: New Perspectives on Race and Performance (Routledge, 2006). In addition, she is the guest editor of two special editions of scholarly journals: "Shakespeare, Race, and Performance," Shakespeare Bulletin (special issue 27.3, Fall 2009) and "Actors of Color in Shakespeare," Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation (special issue 4.1, Spring/Summer 2008).

DR. AVERY T. WILLIS (Moderator) has worked with Peter Sellars since 2006 as Assistant Director (Zaide, Vienna Festival Austria, Barbican Theatre London, Lincoln Center, Aix-en-Provence Festival, France), Festival & Artist Coordinator (New Crowned Hope Festival, Vienna), and Dramaturg (Othello, Vienna Festival & K15 Festival Bochum Germany). Recently, she ran the Communications Department at the Clinton Global Initiative (William J. Clinton Foundation). A Marshall Scholar, Avery earned her PhD in Classical Languages and Literature from the University of Oxford. Additional theatrical credits include: Trojan Women (Director, Oxford Playhouse, UK), The Inaugural Oxford Greek Festival (Festival Founder & Artistic Director), The Constant Prince (Producer, international tour of Cairo, Alexandria, London & Oxford), and Hijabi Monologues (Producer, national tour).

THE PUBLIC THEATER (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Andrew D. Hamingson, Executive Director) was founded by Joseph Papp in 1954 and is now one of the nation's preeminent cultural institutions, producing new plays, musicals, and productions of classics at its downtown and at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The Public's mandate to create a theater for all New Yorkers continues to this day onstage and through extensive outreach and education programs. Each year, over 250,000 people attend Public Theater-related productions and events at six downtown stages, including Joe's Pub, and Shakespeare in the Park. The Public has won 42 Tony Awards, 149 Obies, 40 Drama Desk Awards and four Pulitzer Prizes. The Public has brought 52 shows to Broadway, including Sticks and Bones; That Championship Season; A Chorus Line; The Pirates of Penzance; The Tempest; Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk; On the Town; The Ride Down Mt. Morgan; Topdog/Underdog; Elaine Stritch at Liberty; Take Me Out; Caroline, or Change; Well; Passing Strange; and, most recently, the current Tony Award-winning revival of Hair.

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