Tonight, September 18, Cal Shakes launches a new series of conversations as part of our Direct Address program—Resisting Shakespeare: Or, How to Fall In and Out and In and Out of Love with an all-star leadership roundtable featuring: Marcus Gardley (playwright, black odyssey), Nataki Garrett (Artistic Director, Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Madeline Sayet (Director, Executive Director of Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program), Sam White (Artistic Director, Shakespeare in Detroit), and Dawn Monique Williams (Director & Associate Artistic Director of Aurora Theatre Company). Our very own Artistic Director Eric Ting will moderate the conversation beginning at 5 pm PST. Below, Eric shares a letter he wrote explaining the inspiration for the panel. Register here to join us and stay tuned for future conversations.
Growing up Chinese in Appalachia, I’ve spent much of my life standing on the outside of things. I was drawn to the theater for what it offered me: salvation in the guise of an invitation to be part of something larger than me. In that chosen craft, Shakespeare is often lifted up as a pinnacle, to be conquered, to be celebrated. But I found myself—frequently—outside of it. Nevertheless, I pursued it, venerated it, seized every opportunity to linger in that extraordinary, irresistible language of it…
But now, in the midst of climate crisis and pandemic and social revolution, with our theaters closed, our lives shut in, our futures uncertain, I find myself wrestling with a thing I’ve loved, a thing I’ve been taught to worship.
Can we resist the assumptions and attitudes of our past?
Can we resist love without criticism?
Can we resist systems that center one thing above all others?
And in that resistance, can we imagine a way forward that makes space for us all?
This summer through our Allyship+Anti-Racism series, Cal Shakes has been examining the systems and structures, from Anti-Blackness to White Supremacy, that have led us as a nation to this moment of reckoning. Tonight we turn the lens inward, as we introduce a new series in our Direct Address program: Resisting Shakespeare, where we’ll be joined by good company—friends and colleagues—in frank dialogues about misguided loves and misplaced allegiances, and a hope for reconciliation and redemption amidst uncertain times. Oh, and a little Shakespeare, too.
I hope this finds you safe and healthy.
I hope you’ll join us.