The Public Theater has shared Girl From the North Country cast member Kimber Elayne Sprawl’s collaborative interpretation of Hamlet’s “To Be or Not To Be” speech, performed by a group of 30 Black actors, in honor of Juneteenth, commemorating ending of slavery in the United States.
The video (above) features Toree Alexander, Jelani Alladin, Denée Benton, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Sterling K. Brown, Jonathan Burke, Ato Blankson-Wood, Gerald Caesar, Don Cheadle, Grantham Coleman, Khris Davis, Ellis Dawson, André De Shields, Alysha Deslorieux, Alexandra Grey, Renée Elise Goldsberry, William Jackson Harper, Nikki M. James, Wonza Johnson, Blaine Krauss, Audra McDonald, Jevon McFerrin, Patina Miller, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Adrienne C. Moore, Joe Morton, Jordin Sparks, Kimber Elayne Sprawl, Alexandria Wailes, and Nik Walker.
Creative Director and Producer Kimber Elayne Sprawl says, “Listen as Black actors across the nation explore the truth in the painful reality of being Black in America with Shakespearean text. Timeless words that were never intended for us, yet the notion ‘To Be or Not To Be’ carries infinite weight throughout Black American history.
"We call on America to listen with empathy and to act in alliance with Black Lives Matter. This Nation possesses power that will remain latent until we unlock its truths.”
The video also features musicians Richie Goods and Wesley Winfrey playing “Strange Fruit,” with video editing by Katiana Weems and audio engineering by Gabby Henderson.
This video is presented as part of The Public’s ongoing #BraveNewShakespeare Series, a weekly digital challenge that invites the community to create and share their own interpretations of what Shakespeare’s words mean today through performance, song, conversation, and connection.