Shakespeare’s work has proven remarkably agile over the centuries, and the Public Theater’s 2019 production of Much Ado About Nothing, with an entirely African-American cast focusing on #blacklivesmatter, was such a hit that PBS brought it out to straighten our spines and give us a bit of hope in the age of COVID-19. It’s available on demand through the PBS app.
This article offers five trenchant viewpoints from Black scholars on the relevance of Shakespeare in the 21st century. “We hope that, just as the Public made new meanings of this old play, our voices can signal newer, younger, better ways of thinking about Shakespeare that help us uncover truth, gain empathy, and take responsibility for racism. Like the Public’s Much Ado, the Black Lives Matter movement is both a Black story and a human story, both particular to our culture and universal in the justice it seeks.”