The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0300 Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Subject: Public Theater Forum
The following excerpt appeared in today’s New York Times.
Money and Morals Sharing the Stage With Shakespeare
June 18, 2013
The connection between Shakespeare and nuclear waste might seem tenuous, but Michael J. Sandel, the political philosopher, did his utmost to unite the two at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park on Monday night, assisted by readings given by the likes of Alan Alda, Vanessa Redgrave, Christine Baranski and Matt Damon.
The sold-out event, organized by the Public Theater as part of its Public Forum series, in partnership with the Aspen Institute Arts Program, was titled “What Are We Worth? Shakespeare, Money and Morals.”
It was billed as a town-hall discussion. The audience, in other words, had to pay attention because Professor Sandel, one of Harvard’s star performers, had a raft of questions ready to lob from the stage.
Shakespeare came first. He thought a lot about money. He knew the need for it, the feel of it in the hand, the seductive power of ducats, florins, groats and pure gold. Raúl Esparza led off with a blazing rant from “King John” on the topic of commodity — the word meant “self-interest” in Shakespeare’s day — that Karl Marx cherished. Ms. Baranski read the famous speech on gold from “Timon of Athens,” holding a shiny coin aloft as she spat out, “Thus much of this will make black white, foul fair, wrong right, base noble, old young, coward valiant,” and, in the end, throwing it contemptuously on the stage.
Mr. Alda declaimed Duke Senior’s “sweet are the uses of adversity” speech from “As You Like It,” and Gloria Reuben, as Gonzalo from “The Tempest,” conjured the utopian dream of a world without conflict or commerce.
Ms. Redgrave took a two-role turn, with the parts of Romeo and the apothecary who supplies him with fatal poison in Act V of “Romeo and Juliet.”
Five actors took the stage for the coffin scene from “The Merchant of Venice.” Lily Rabe, as Portia, and Marsha Stephanie Blake, as her lady-in-waiting, led two swaggering suitors, played by Jesse L. Martin and Mr. Damon, up to the gold, silver and lead coffins, followed by Mr. Right, Bassanio, played by Hamish Linklater.
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