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Brave New Shakespeare Challenge - "Bearing Witness" in ASL from THE TEMPEST
Brave New Shakespeare Challenge - "Otherness" in ASL from THE BOOK OF SIR THOMAS MORE
Brave New Shakespeare Challenge - "Taking Action" in ASL from AS YOU LIKE IT

Brave New Shakespeare 2.0


This fall, the Public Shakespeare Initiative is proud to have the extraordinary artists Danaya Esperanza and Alexandria Wailes as Guest Curators for all of our Brave New Shakespeare releases, In the coming weeks and months, they will also be engaging young people to create their own videos, which will be featured here.

For this week’s release, Guest Curator Alexandria has enlisted the talents of a group of Deaf and hearing actors in a breathtaking and innovative suite of videos, bringing Shakespeare’s words and images to new and vivid life.

We hope you'll be inspired to create your own in whatever way you want -- post it on social media and add #bravenewshakespeare so we can find you!


Artistic Statement from Guest Curator Alexandria Wailes.

When the Public's Brave New Shakespeare Challenge invited me to consider working with a local school to embrace ASL and Shakespeare, it was an easy choice to make. About thirteen years ago, I worked as a high school teacher's assistant at Lexington School for the Deaf. At that time, I was tapped to direct a play with some of the students. It was one of the most fun and enriching directing gigs in my career. To create space for Deaf and hard of hearing students to express themselves with mentors who are like them – Deaf and hard of hearing – showed me the power of direct language interactions. The students thrived, the production sold , and the school regretted not securing more performances. Fast forward to Fall 2020.

I reached out to the teachers helming the Lexington Drama Club and listened to the themes that have come up for the students.

As it turns out, the students touched upon themes that are timeless and affect us no matter where we are in this world. 

I encouraged the students to connect with the power of words and plug into American Sign Language. 

With the three themes of: Bearing Witness, Otherness and Taking Action, we thread together very real emotions and experiences during a time where we are working and taking classes, remotely.  

Bearing Witness: What does it look like to witness something magical happening before you? 

Otherness: What does accountability mean for tending to those who are ostracized based on where they come from?

Taking Action: What leads us to make shifts in our thinking?

Special thanks to the teachers and assistants who run the Lexington Drama Club. A shout out to our fantastic mentors who joined our sessions! They worked with the students on acting tips and ASL translations. I also commend the students who showed impressive levels of commitment and pulled this material off with only three work sessions! 

The power of theatre. The power of the collective collaboration. The empowerment of young minds in a manner that allows them to flourish when we surround them with support, compassionate mentors and value for their language, culture and their presence. 


Bearing Witness.

By William Shakespeare
Act 3, Scene 1

Click here to read the passage.


By William Shakespeare
Act 2, Scene 4

Click here to read the passage.

Taking Action.

By William Shakespeare
Act 1, Scene 3

Click here to read the passage.