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Keith Hamilton Cobb's AMERICAN MOOR Kicks Off Event Series Exploring Race & Shakespeare

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Elm Shakespeare Company will present five evenings of performances and moderated conversation with BIPOC artists and scholars.

Keith Hamilton Cobb's AMERICAN MOOR Kicks Off Event Series Exploring Race & Shakespeare

Elm Shakespeare Company has announced its free, online event series, Building a Brave New Theater: Exploring Shakespeare & Race in 2020. Five evenings of performances and moderated conversation with BIPOC artists and scholars will bring the New Haven community (and beyond) together to celebrate and interrogate the 400-year old white playwright's work and legacy -- seeking to understand and amplify BIPOC artists' experience of the plays and asking how Shakespeare's work can serve audiences in 2020.

Presented by New Haven's Elm Shakespeare Company and generously sponsored by the Elizabethan Club of Yale University and Webster Bank, Building a Brave New Theatre: Exploring Race & Shakespeare in 2020 will 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?

October 29th

American Moor as performed at London's Globe Theatre. Playwright/Performer Keith Hamilton Cobb will share a rarely-seen video of his award-winning and explosive play American Moor, as it was performed on the Wanamaker stage in 2018. Cobb's life-long adoration of Shakespeare, and his life-long sense of marginalization in American society fuel this passionate, poetic, pointed and deeply moving piece of theatre that examines, exalts, and indicts our American theatre as a microcosm of our ailing American culture. When a white director presumes to dictate how Shakespeare's black leading man should behave, a black actor's salvation lies in the love of self. American Moor is a play about unconditional love. Mr. Cobb will lead a discussion following the performance about who gets to make art in America today, who owns Shakespeare, and the nature of unadulterated love. For more information and tickets visit

November 12

Shakespeare in 2020: a BIPOC Directors Forum. A panel discussion exploring the challenges, joys, and possibilities of directing Shakespeare in America and how to best serve the diverse audiences of today's and tomorrow's theater. Including directors: L. Peter Callender, Carl Cofield, Antonio Ocampo Guzman, Madeline Sayet, and Dawn Monique Williams. Moderated by Elm Shakespeare's own Raphael Massie.

November 19

Othello, A Black Girl's Journey. Harlem Shakespeare Festival's Artistic Director, Debra Ann Byrd performs and discusses her living memoir about a young woman's trials and triumphs with race and the classics, and her gender flipped journey on the road to becoming Shakespeare's noble, flawed general.

December 4

Whose Shakespeare? A Conversation with Ayanna Thompson. The acclaimed scholar and Shakespeare Association President discusses issues of race and Shakespeare including the changing practices and perceptions of colorblind casting, if/how 'authenticity' is possible in education and reform programs, and this moment in American theater.

December 17

Amplified! A Celebration of BIPOC Actors & Training. Actors James Udom, Manu Kumasi, Brandon Burton, Rebecca S'manga Frank, MaConnia Chesser and more perform their favorite speeches and scenes, followed by a discussion on the joys and challenges of bringing these roles to life, actor training and what a new generation of BIPOC actors in love with Shakespeare should know . Produced under Actors' Equity Association agreement and moderated by Elm Shakespeare's Gracy Brown.

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."

Registration is required for all events. For more information on the full series: Building a Brave New Theatre: Exploring Race & Shakespeare in 2020, visit

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