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Panel will address 'multi-cultural Shakespeare'

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Bill Rauch will join three other speakers, including longtime OSF actor Tyrone Wilson, to discuss the challenges and rewards of “Multi-Cultural Shakespeare”  from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, in the Meese Room of Hannon Library at Southern Oregon University. There is no admission charge.

The event is sponsored by Shakespeare America, an OSF-SOU consortium that explores the question of what “American Shakespeare” means.

“One of the most important definitions of “American” is “Multi-Cultural,” David McCandless, director of Shakespeare Studies at SOU and organizer of the event, said in a release. “And no major regional theater in the country takes that definition more seriously than OSF.”

Among other topics, panelists will discuss how audiences should “read” race and ethnicity when watching a Shakespearean play with a racially and ethnically diverse cast. For instance, McCandless says, OSF describes itself as practicing “color-conscious” casting rather than “color-blind.”

“I’m not sure that distinction is clear to audiences,” he said in the release, “so it will be fascinating to discuss it. Our panelists have such vast experience, as both actors and directors, negotiating the tricky terrain of multicultural Shakespeare."

Joining Rauch and Wilson on the panel are Professor Tiffany Lopez, director of the School of Film, Dance, and Theatre at Arizona State University, and founder of the Latina/o Play Project; and Kenneth Lee, a stage and film actor and a leader of the Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC). Professor Lara Bovilsky, a Shakespeare scholar from the University of Oregon, will begin the event with a lecture entitled, “Shakespeare’s Multiculturalism circa 1601.”

Shakespeare America was founded by David Humphrey, director of the Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU, and Paul Nicholson, executive director emeritus at OSF. In May 2015, Shakespeare America presented an all-day symposium titled “Much Ado About Shakespeare in America,” which centered on OSF’s production of "Much Ado About Nothing."