Tony nominee and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o has joined the radio play presentation of Richard II from The Public Theater and WNYC as The Narrator. The stage and screen star joins Broadway alum André Holland, in the title role, alongside Tony winner Phylicia Rashad and five-time Tony nominee Estelle Parsons as the Duchess of Gloucester and the Duchess of York, respectively.
Richard II will be broadcast over four nights from July 13–16 at 8 PM ET streaming at WNYC.org. The play will also air on WNYC 93.9 FM and AM 820 for local NYC radio listeners. Additionally, the series will be available as a podcast download for on-demand listening following its airing.
The Saheem Ali-directed production was originally planned for The Public's 2020 Shakespeare in the Park season, but the in-person staging was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has shuttered theatres the world over.
“A fractured society. A man wrongfully murdered. The palpable threat of violence and revenge against a broken system. Revolution and regime change. This was Shakespeare’s backdrop for Richard II,” says Ali. “It’s my hope that listening to Shakespeare’s words, broadcast in the midst of a pandemic and an uprising, will have powerful resonance in our world.”
Joining the trio in the predominately BIPOC cast are Barzin Akhavan as Salisbury/Marshall, Sean Carvajal as Gardener's Man/Surrey, Michael Bradley Cohen as Bushy, Sanjit De Silva as Mowbray/Exton, Biko Eisen-Martin as Fitzwater, Michael Gaston as Northumberland, Stephen McKinley Henderson as Gardener, Miriam A. Hyman as Bolingbroke, Merritt Janson as Scroop, Elijah Jones as Hotspur, Dakin Matthews as Gaunt, Jacob Ming-Trent as Carlisle, Maria Mukuka as Queen's Lady/Servant, Okwui Okpokwasili as Willoughby/Abbot, Tom Pecinka as Aumerle, Reza Salazar as Welsh Captain, Thom Sesma as Ross/Keeper, Sathya Sridharan as Bagot, John Douglas Thompson as York, Claire van der Boom as Queen, Natalie Woolams-Torres as Green, and Ja’Siah Young as Groom.
Richard II features original music composition by Michael Thurber with Arabella Powell as production stage manager. The Public Theater and company have dedicated this production to the Black Lives Matter movement, in support of the fight against racism and inequality and in recognition of the unspeakable violence against Black communities.
This isn't Holland's first time working with The Public—he starred in the 2011 Shakespeare in the Park productions of Measure for Measure and All's Well That Ends Well. More recently, he played Othello at the Globe Theatre in London.