Rac(e)ing the Shakespearean Archive poster

A Weekend Workshop co-sponsored by Tulane University and the Folger Shakespeare Library 
February 23-26, 2023

Organizers: Michael P. Kuczynski, Professor of English at Tulane University and John “Ray” Proctor, Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance at Tulane University.


Tulane School of Liberal Arts Professor of English Michael Kuczynski and Professor of Theater John “Ray” Proctor received a grant from the Folger Shakespeare Library to examine the intersection of of race and Shakespearean research and performance in the Southern United States – specifically New Orleans – by adopting a critical approach to the collection, archival study, and performance of his works. Ten visiting scholars have been invited to Tulane’s uptown campus to participate, with an opportunity for New Orleans locals to engage in portions of the workshop that are free and open to the public.

Provocatively defining the archive to include publications, performances, adaptations, and influences, this workshop will adopt a critical approach to “Shakespeare” in New Orleans, one of America’s most racially diverse cities. The period before, during, and after the Civil War witnessed a consistent engagement with Shakespeare’s work in New Orleans and the American South generally which inevitably reflected the racial dynamics of the city, one of America’s most important ports and a center of the American slave trade. Nineteenth-century New Orleans’ engagement with Shakespeare, in turn, influenced twentieth-century reactions to the playwright and his works in the city and continues to impact Shakespeare’s adaptation and use in twenty-first-century classrooms, libraries, streets, and theatres. Among the topics to be discussed will be acting, the semiotics of race in performance, and the performative implications of color-conscious casting; the collecting, printing, and reading of Shakespeare’s plays and their role in elementary and higher education; and Shakespeare’s presence in Mardi Gras and related forms of cultural spectacle. Special focus will be given to Shakespeare’s status within contemporary Critical Race Studies.


***Events open to the public indicated in green.***

Thursday, February 23

  • Throughout the Day: Workshop Participants Arrive and Check-In at the Hampton Inn
    • 3626 St. Charles Avenue, NOLA 70115; 504-899-9990
  • 5:00 PM: Reception Buffet; Newcomb Faculty Lounge, 114 Newcomb Hall
    • Tulane Campus, 1229 Broadway Street, NOLA 70118
  • Kara Tucina Olidge, Tulane University Ayanna Thompson
    6:00 PM: Welcome and Keynote Dialogue: Kara Tucina Olidge (Getty Research Center) and Ayanna Thompson (Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies) 
    A discussion of race and Shakespeare in relation to the cultural history of New Orleans, the South, and America generally and in the context of the collecting, archival study, and performance of Shakespeare’s works.
    • Rogers Memorial Chapel, Tulane University
    • 1229 Broadway Street, NOLA 70118
    • Reception Following; OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Friday, February 24

  • Throughout the Day: Breakout Sessions
  • 9:00-10:00 AM: Coffee Service, Woodward Way, the Newcomb Art Department at the School of Liberal Arts, Tulane Campus
  • 10:00 AM-12:00 PM: Hands-On Archival Work, Amistad Research Center, Tulane Campus
  • 12:00-1:30 PM: Lunch, The Commons, Newcomb Institute Room 337, Tulane Campus
  • 1:30-3:00 PM: Roundtable Discussion: “Race and the Premodern” and Hands-On Archival Work, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library Special Collections, Tulane Campus
  • Dinner: ON YOUR OWN
  • 6:30-8:30 PM: Performance: Eight Othellos, André Cailloux Center for the Performing Arts and Cultural Justice 
    An investigation and examination of "traditional "casting and the spectacle-text through performance by inviting 8 actors of differing gender identities and races to perform the same scene. Following the performances, audience/critics will engage in discussion how casting practices and modes of contemporary performance impact, alter, complicate and enhance the relationship between audience's interpretation and perception and the performance-text.
    • 2541 Bayou Road, NOLA 70119
    • FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC (Tulane Shuttle Transportation Provided from Campus)

Saturday, February 25

  • 8:30 AM-4:00 PM: Pick up Box Lunches, Department of English, Norman Mayer Hall Room 125, Tulane Campus
  • Streetcar Tour of Uptown New Orleans and the French Quarter
  • 10:00 AM-11:00 AM: Tour of Le Petit Theatre, 616 St. Peter Street, NOLA 70116
  • 11:00-1:00 PM: Lunch in the Quarter (Box Lunches Provided)
  • 1:00-2:00 PM: Tour of the Historic New Orleans Collection, 520 Royal Street, NOLA 70130
  • 2:00-4:00 PM: Walking Tour of the French Quarter
  • Dinner: ON YOUR OWN

Sunday, February 26

  • Throughout the Day: Workshop Participants Check-Out Hampton Inn and Depart

For more information, contact Michael Kuczynski at mkuczyn@tulane.edu or Ray Proctor at jproctor@tulane.edu. 

PARTNERS: Amistad Research Center, André Cailloux Center for the Performing Arts and Cultural Justice, Center for Public Service, Crescent City Stage, Historic New Orleans Collection, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane, Newcomb-Tulane College, No Dream Deferred Theatre Company

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