African-American Shakespeare Company

San Francisco, CA
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African-American Shakespeare Company was established in 1994 by professional theater artists as an alternative answer to the color-blind casting initiative that began in the early 1990s. While this initiative temporarily changed the diversity on stage, African-American Shakespeare Company felt color-blind casting was ignoring these artists’ rich cultural heritage and was inspired to highlight the dynamic cultural vibrancy that actors of color could bring to classical works. For over sixteen years, the company has produced over 34 productions, toured to 97 schools, and reached over 110,000 patrons through mainstage productions and their arts education program. The goal is to bring the classics to a diverse community in a method that would appeal to their aesthetic; the overall vision and desire is to demonstrate through the arts the universal similarities by sharing, appreciating, and nurturing the human spirit. The company’s distinctive productions have included a Hip-Hop version of Macbeth, The Importance of Being Earnest set in the Harlem Renaissance, a Gospel version of Antigone, and Twelfth Night with an original 1940s jazz composition and Film Noir setting within San Francisco's Western Addition, coined "Harlem of the West".

For Shakespeare in American Communities, African-American Shakespeare Company will present student matinees of Much Ado About Nothing (Spring 2014) directed by Artistic Director L. Peter Callender. The company will provide related educational activities including a teacher’s night out, in-classroom workshop for students, and a study guide. They anticipate reaching 12 schools from the San Francisco Bay area.