This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

9Nov/20

WHO’S THERE: HAMLET AND BLACK LIVES

Chukwudi Iwuji will discuss the 2016 Public Theater Mobile Unit production of Hamlet in virtual program on November 10 (photo by Joan Marcus)

Who: Karen Ann Daniels, Chukwudi Iwuji, Patricia MacGregor, James Shapiro, Praycious Wilson-Gay
What: Discussion about race, Shakespeare, community, and the Public Theater’s Mobile Unit
Where: The Public Theater website and YouTube channel
When: Tuesday, November 10, free with RSVP, 7:00
Why: In the fall of 2016, the Public Theater’s Mobile Unit, after traveling across New York City, brought Patricia McGregor’s contemporary production of Hamlet to the Shiva Theater; I called the show “a playful adaptation highlighted by a superior performance by Olivier Award winner and Royal Shakespeare Company associate artist Iwuji, who is both inspired and inspiring as Hamlet. Iwuji, who has never played the role before, jumps in feet first, giving his all, often making direct eye contact with the audience to bring them further into the story. He does a lot of shouting, but he balances that with beautifully rendered soliloquies that (almost) feel like they could have been written today.” With the Public Theater and the Mobile Unit shut down because of the pandemic, the downtown institution will be presenting the virtual program “Who’s There: Hamlet and Black Lives,” a free discussion with Iwuji and McGregor on November 10 at 7:00. It is exciting to watch the actor talk about Shakespeare; on June 29, he delivered an impassioned reading of the “Homely Swain” speech from Henry IV and then waxed poetic about the play for a Red Bull Theater RemakaBULL Podversation, which can be viewed here. The Public presentation will explore Hamlet and the Mobile Unit itself within the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and the state of our divided nation, with Iwuji and McGregor joined by Mobile Unit director Karen Ann Daniels, Mobile Unit community programs manager Praycious Wilson-Gay, and Shakespeare scholar in residence James Shapiro.

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