Our Shakespeare and Race festival returns

  Our annual festival returns for its fourth year this Autumn, with a series of events, workshops, performances and an international symposium, in our candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

5 minute read

Our leading Shakespeare and Race festival returns this Autumn for the fourth time, exploring the theme Spoken Word(s), and this year, we’re thrilled our series of events will be co-produced and co-sponsored by King’s College London.

Originally launched in 2018, our inaugural Shakespeare and Race festival was conceived and curated by our very own Professor Farah Karim-Cooper to highlight the importance of race in the consideration of Shakespeare – not only in his time, but more urgently, in our own – and to give a platform to scholars, actors, writers, theatre-makers and educators of colour.

A young black female stands on the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse stage.

Our fourth Shakespeare and Race festival returns this Autumn, with a series of events, workshops and a symposium from 28 October – 5 November 2022.

Shakespeare and Race: Spoken Word(s) will continue to showcase new creative work, as well as ground-breaking research from scholars around the world, with speakers and artists including Terrance Hayes (award-winning Poet and Author), Karen Ann Daniels (Artistic Director, Folger Theatre), Iqbal Khan (Associate Director, Birmingham Rep) and Akiya Henry (Much Ado About Nothing, RSC), and the official launch of the Early Modern Scholars of Colour network led by Farah with more to be announced. 

The festival opens alongside the launch of the new Shakespeare Centre London. This research centre will build on and formalise two decades of successful collaborations between ourselves and King’s College London, which includes the joint MA in Shakespeare Studies and co-sponsorship of biennial postgraduate conferences, and most recently the Early Modern Scholars of Colour network. With its focus on critical knowledge, creative practice and social justice, the Shakespeare Centre London will strive to be an inclusive space for the study and dissemination of new research in Shakespeare and early modern studies, and especially premodern critical race studies.  

Building on twenty years of successful collaboration, the Shakespeare Centre London will bring together academics from the Globe and King’s to promote knowledge and new research in Shakespeare and early modern studies, aiming to be a beacon for the inclusive study of Shakespeare, text, performance and premodern critical race studies. 

Professor Farah Karim-Cooper smiles warmly to camera.

We are thrilled to be strengthening our longstanding partnership with King’s College London as we join forces to create a more inclusive and accessible environment to study Shakespeare. This year’s Shakespeare and Race Festival is a joint endeavour full of exciting events such as workshops, student performances, an international symposium, and conversations with lodestars in the fields of poetry and Shakespeare- the partnership, the festival and our initiative, the Early Modern Scholars of Colour Network, all testify to our commitment to open up Shakespeare studies with the aim of developing a much more diverse academy.

— Professor Farah Karim-Cooper, Professor of Shakespeare Studies, King’s College London and Co-Director of Education at Shakespeare’s Globe.

On 28 October, Professor Farah Karim-Cooper will lead the official launch of the Early Modern Scholars of Colour Network in Towards an Anti-Racist Academy: The Early Modern Scholars of Colour Network. The network aims to create community amongst UK-based scholars of colour in Shakespeare and Early Modern studies, while actively working towards establishing greater inclusivity and decolonial transformation in the UK academy.

The Early Modern Scholars of Colour Network launches on 28 October 2022.

The Shakespeare Centre London launches at Opening Words on 31 October. Join Poet and Author Terrance Haynes as he discusses his recent book, American Sonnets for my Past and Future Assassin.

A Night with the Folger: Folios for a 21st Centure America takes place on 1 November 2022.

On 1 November, we’re marking the 400th anniversary of the First Folio with A Night with the Folger: Folios for a 21st Century America in collaboration with the Folger Shakespeare Library. The event features the staging of a new play by Karen Ann Daniels (Artistic Director at the Folger Theatre) and Malik Work, and a preview of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s new exhibition gallery, with the entire First Folio collection displayed for the public.

On 2 November, Politics, Performance and the Poetics of Race: In Conversation with Theatre Practitioners/Artists will explore the ways in which theatre artists engage with questions of race, identity and politics as they stage Shakespeare in the 21st Century. The panel will include Iqbal Khan, Cameron Knight, Akiya Henry and Abigail Graham.  

Politics, Performance and the Poetics of Race takes place on 2 November 2022.
A collage shows 12 pages from an old book as small thumbnails

We mark the 400th anniversary of the First Folio in an exclusive event with the Folger Shakespeare Library.

An international symposium will be held on Friday 4 and Saturday 5 November. Shakespeare and Race: Spoken Word(s) – Academic Symposium will see a range of presentations on the topics of Shakespeare, Race, and Poetics. Keynote speakers include Professor Nandini Das (Oxford University), Professor Joyce Green MacDonald (University of Kentucky), Professor Dennis Britton (University of British Columbia), and Professor Jane Grogan (University College Dublin). The talks will examine how the historical meanings – as well as the lived experience – of race and racism inform the reception of Shakespeare’s verse, how race is formulated within postcolonial and minority responses to Shakespeare’s language, and how the study of formalist poetics is affected by questions of race, diaspora, migration, globalisation, or canonicity.

The Call For Papers has been extended to 1 September. Submit your abstracts to Dr Hanh Bui and Hassana Moosa.

The festival will conclude with the Closing Words event on 5 November at Bush House at King’s College London, featuring readings by contemporary poets whose work responds to Shakespeare.

Our series of Anti-Racist Shakespeare webinars also continues this year, bringing together scholars and artists of colour to examine Shakespeare’s plays through the lens of race and social justice. See upcoming events and catch up on previous webinars on our YouTube channel.

We’re also taking steps in our Library & Archive to decolonise our collections, considering the barriers in accessibility in our catalogues and making them inclusive.


Discover all events as part of our fourth Shakespeare and Race festival this 28 October – 5 November 2022 and book your tickets.