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Ayanna Thomason and Dawn Monique Williams Investigate WHOSE SHAKESPEARE? in Elm Shakespeare Company's Online Series


Registration is required

Ayanna Thomason and Dawn Monique Williams Investigate WHOSE SHAKESPEARE? in Elm Shakespeare Company's Online Series

Whose Shakespeare? will be presented via Zoom and Facebook Live Friday December 4 at 7pm as the fourth event of Elm Shakespeare Company's free, online series, Building a Brave New Theater: Exploring Shakespeare & Race in 2020. Director Dawn Monique Williams hosts a deep dive conversation with acclaimed scholar Ayanna Thompson about issues of race and Shakespeare including the changing practices and perceptions of 'colorblind casting', if and how 'authenticity' is possible in Shakespeare education programs, and this moment in American theater. Registration is required at

Ayanna Thompson is one of the world's leading scholars of Shakespeare & Race studies. As a Professor of English at Arizona State University, she directs the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, where she created RaceB4Race, an ongoing conference series and professional network community by and for scholars of color working on issues of race in premodern literature, history, and culture. She is the author of many books including Blackface (forthcoming Bloomsbury, 2021) and Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America, among others, as well as editor of The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Race (forthcoming Cambridge University Press, 2021), Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance, and Colorblind Shakespeare: New Perspectives on Race and Performance.

Dedicated to the unique experience of live theatre, Thompson has worked closely with many theatre companies and practitioners. She chairs the Council of Scholars at Theatre for a New Audience and was on the board of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre. She has also worked closely with The Public Theatre, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare's Globe, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She is known as the "Othello Whisperer," and is often called upon to coach actors playing the notoriously difficult title role, helping them to navigate the structural and textual issues that permeate the play.

Dawn Monique Williams is an award-winning director and the Associate Artistic Director of Aurora Theatre Company in Berkeley, CA. Working regionally and internationally, Williams was both an Artistic Associate and Killian Directing Fellow at Oregon Shakespeare Festival where she directed Merry Wives of Windsor in 2017. Her recent directing credits include Aurora's Bull in a China Shop, Earthrise at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, TiJean and His Brothers, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, The Secretaries(Willamette Week's Top 10 Portland Theatre Productions of 2018), Romeo & Juliet, August Wilson's The Piano Lesson, and Lynn Nottage'sBy the Way, Meet Stark. Her international directing credits include Edinburgh Festival Fringe productions of Scapin the Cheat, Anna Bella Eema, and The Tempest.Dawn has received the Princess Grace Theatre Fellowship and a TCG Leadership U residency grant.

This online discussion is presented by Elm Shakespeare and generously sponsored by the Elizabethan Club of Yale University and Webster Bank as part of the event series, Building a Brave New Theatre: Exploring Race & Shakespeare in 2020. The series is designed to understand and amplify BIPOC artists' experiences of these plays, and ask important questions being raised after centuries of Bardolatry. Questions such as... Why perform Shakespeare now? What is the difference between Shakespeare's plays and the Shakespeare 'System'? Can that System's legacy be overcome? and... How can a theater company dedicated to the works of this playwright meet this moment and best serve its community?

Artistic Director Rebecca Goodheart is passionate about the complexity and importance of this series, "At the end of the day, we at Elm Shakespeare Company, believe there is transformative power in these plays, AND we are committed to engaging not only with their magic and beauty, but with the difficult issues they and their legacy can raise. We want to ask the tough questions, even as we celebrate them, and we are so lucky to have partners like the Elizabethan Club and Webster Bank to help us do both."

Next event in the Building a Brave New Theatre series happens on December 10: A Celebration of BIPOC Actors & Exploration of BIPOC Actor Training. Registration is required for all events. For more information on the full series: Building a Brave New Theatre: Exploring Race & Shakespeare in 2020, visit

About Elm Shakespeare Company: The Elm Shakespeare Company's mission is to ignite a spark in our humanity, enriches the lives of people from widely diverse backgrounds, and strengthen the artistic and educational landscape of the Greater New Haven region. We are committed to bringing New Haven together through Shakespeare by offering joyous, provocative theater and innovative educational experiences that our accessible to all in our parks, our classrooms, our neighborhoods and now our computers!

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