The Public Theater and WNYC's radio production of Richard II, directed by Saheem Ali, kicks off its four-night broadcast July 13. Starring André Holland in the title role, the production—initially slated for the 2020 Shakespeare in the Park season—was re-conceived for radio format in the wake of the pandemic.
“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," says director Ali, who has assembled a predominantly BIPOC cast for the production.
Joining Holland in the principal cast are Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o as The Narrator, Tony winner Phylicia Rashad as the Duchess of Gloucester, Miriam A. Hyman as Bolingbroke, and five-time Tony nominee Estelle Parsons as the Duchess of York.
Richard II will be broadcast over four nights, through July 16 at 8 PM ET, streaming at WNYC.org. The play also airs 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.
Rounding out the company 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, 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, and Arabella Powell serves as production stage manager.
“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. "I’m exceptionally proud of this production, recorded for public radio with a predominantly BIPOC ensemble, led by the extraordinary André Holland.”
In support of the fight against racism and inequality and in recognition of the violence against Black communities, The Public Theater and company dedicate this production to the Black Lives Matter movement.