Welcome to the Black Shakespeare(ans) Database
The database is an ongoing project launched in 2021 by the student-interviewers enrolled in the “Black Shakespeare” course at the University of Chicago and the student-researchers of the English Department’s Undergraduate Black Studies Research cluster, including webmaster Addison Wood. The project is developed in partnership with the Court Theatre and under the supervision of Pr. Noémie Ndiaye.
Black theatre-makers have loved, worked with, and worked through Shakespeare’s plays for a very long time and in very different ways. The Black Shakespeare(ans) Database (BSD) highlights the history, complexity, and vibrancy of that performance tradition by giving visibility to classically trained Black actors, directors, playwrights, and dramaturgs in North America and beyond.
Each featured artist’s page includes a biography, an interview, and a transcript of that interview, as well as the artist’s contact information. Although the BSD is designed to become richer and richer over time, it does not aim for exhaustivity: this is a repository of qualitative, not quantitative, knowledge. The BSD is, indeed, a space for Black artists to tell their story, speak their truth, and reflect upon their relation to Shakespeare and performance. In this space for story-telling, we invite all scholars, theatre-makers, and theatre-lovers to listen, learn, and re-imagine possibilities together.
We hope the stories gathered here will be useful to Shakespeare and theatre scholars, but also to actors in search of community, and to casting agents always in search of talent. So, if you are a Black Shakespearean who would like to be added to the database (or for any other question or inquiry), please contact email@example.com
If you are a scholar who would like to cite an interview from this database, please use the following format: Artist’s Last Name, First Name. Interview with First Name Last Name. Black Shakespeare(ans) Database. URL. Date Interviewed.
Reflections on BSD
Ayanna Thompson Regents Professor of English Director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) Arizona State University All too often classically trained actors of color, and especially black Shakespeareans, are lauded in the mainstream...
Nora Titone on Black Shakespeare Database
This database is a stunningly beautiful creation, a feast for the mind, and an inspiration to theatre makers everywhere. It is at once a roster of eminent artists, a documentary of a significant body of artistic work, and an oral history archive reflecting the life...
Check Out Black Baroque
Enjoying this content? Click here for the Youtube page of the Black Shakespeare(ans) Database’s cognate, the Black Baroque Project @UChicago.