Since the pandemic began, theater companies in Dallas-Fort Worth and beyond have been exploring new ways to create art and engage with their audiences. We've seen streamed performances, drive-in productions, experimental Zoom scripts, and now a podcast.
Shakespeare Dallas has launched a monthly audio series called Shakespeare Decoded, of which the first two episodes are available now. The podcast explores the social issues of William Shakespeare's day that remain burning issues in today's global society.
Each episode features panelists from across the country sharing their expertise on themes such as class division, racism, gender, and bias.
Episode 1 is titled "The Badge of All Our Tribe: Religiosity and Identity in The Merchant of Venice" and features Bishop Keith Ackerman, assisting Anglo-Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth; Professor Dan Moss, associate professor of English at Southern Methodist University; and Rabbi David Stern, rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas.
In this episode, the group dives into how Shakespeare grapples with religious and cultural identity and what the text of his controversial play written in 1596 can teach us about empathy today.
Episode 2, "Much Ado About the Sexual Distrust of Women," includes guests Rosaura Cruz, executive director of Junior Players; Vietca Do, arts engagement programs manager of The Old Globe; and Lauren Smart, professor of practice in journalism at Southern Methodist University.
This group discusses the perception of women in the Elizabethan era and where that leaves us 400 years after the events of Much Ado About Nothing.
"As we develop new programming, we are always trying to answer the questions, 'Is Shakespeare still relevant today? Are his works truly universal to all, or just to some?'" says Jenni Stewart, Shakespeare Dallas' associate artistic director. "Our goal is to confront the societal pressures affecting Shakespeare's characters and, through that process, examine what it means to be human in our world today."
For Shakespeare Dallas, best known for its Shakespeare in the Park performances, Shakespeare Decoded is part of a larger shift to digital, worldwide programming that has included short films, digital arts education resources, and online youth camps.
Shakespeare Decoded is available for free on the Spotify app and the Shakespeare Dallas website; other platforms like Apple and Google will be available soon.