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Talking Shakespeare

Notes from a Journey


Louis Fantasia

Talking Shakespeare is a collection of essays on Shakespeare’s plays and politics and their impact in the world today. Originally given as provocative talks on Shakespeare at some of the most prestigious universities, conferences, and theatres around the world, they reflect on the author’s more than thirty-year career as a producer, director and educator. The essays provide a unique and personal look into multiple aspects of Shakespeare’s world—and ours.


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Chapter 1. “O Brave New Will!”—Images of Justice and Intolerance in Shakespeare


· 1 · “O BRAVE NEW WILL!”— IMAGES OF JUSTICE AND INTOLERANCE IN SHAKESPEARE (The following was given at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, in April 1994—the second anniversary of the Rodney King riots. It was the opening speech for a conference on issues of justice and intolerance, co- sponsored by the Shakespeare Globe Centre, Western Region, and the Los Angeles Central Library. Also involved were the UCLA Graduate School of Education, and Humanitas— a Los Angeles Unified School District program encouraging academic excellence in the humanities) First of all, I want to thank you all for coming. Tonight we begin a multi- event conference on the problems presented in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure, with an additional performance of All’s Well That Ends Well thrown in. We’ll have speakers from Oregon and Alabama, workshops and per- formances that are bilingual, or done by all- female casts and sixth- graders, seminars that deal with the latest hi- tech computer technology— all over a two- week period here (in Los Angeles), in Glendale, and at the downtown Central Library— all to investigate ways in which to teach, produce, present, and discuss issues of gender, race, religion and class in the four- hundred- year- old texts of a dead white European male playwright, who may or may not have been the Earl of Oxford. I am very pleased, and extremely honored and grateful, that we have been allowed to begin this investigation here at...

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