Podcast Extra: André Holland on Shakespeare’s “Richard II”
Play • 17 min

This summer, the Public Theatre, in New York, is putting on Shakespeare’s history play “Richard II.” Because most theatre was cancelled, even outdoors, due to the pandemic, the Public partnered with WNYC to bring the show to the radio. The production stars André Holland as the weak, indecisive king who faces a rebellion by his cousin, Bolingbroke. Richard is not a “bad dude,” Holland says, but a man doing the best he can in a situation he cannot manage. The theatre critic Vinson Cunningham spoke with Holland about performing Shakespeare as a Black actor and his concerns about taking on the role of King Richard: What would a Black man playing the failed leader convey to an audience? Holland also explains why he thinks that Black actors are particularly suited to inhabiting the language of Shakespeare.  

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