Shakespeare Alive

1. Shakespeare and Race, with Farah Karim-Cooper

November 16, 2020 Farah Karim-Cooper Episode 1
Shakespeare Alive
1. Shakespeare and Race, with Farah Karim-Cooper
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Shakespeare Alive
1. Shakespeare and Race, with Farah Karim-Cooper
Nov 16, 2020 Episode 1
Farah Karim-Cooper

Farah Karim-Cooper, Head of Higher Education and Research at Shakespeare's Globe, talks to Paul about her first encounter with Shakespeare, her experiences of academia and her work on the Shakespeare and Race festival.

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Show Notes Transcript

Farah Karim-Cooper, Head of Higher Education and Research at Shakespeare's Globe, talks to Paul about her first encounter with Shakespeare, her experiences of academia and her work on the Shakespeare and Race festival.

Support the show (https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/podcast-support)

Paul Edmondson:
Hello everybody. And welcome to Shakespeare Alive a podcast of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. My name's Paul Edmondson. Shakespeare Alive hosts conversations with people who work with Shakespeare throughout the world. I've known today's guest for the equivalent of the passage of time in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale: 16 years. Farah Karim- Cooper is Professor of Shakespeare Studies, Kings college, London, and Head of Higher Education and Research at Shakespeare's Globe. She's also Vice President of the Shakespeare Association of America. She has published many articles and chapters in books, as well as books of her own, including Cosmetics in Shakespearian and Renaissance Drama, The Hand on the Shakespearian Stage: Gesture, Touch, and the Spectacle of Dismemberment. For the last three years, she's been curating the Shakespeare and Race festival at the Globe.  She's an executive board member of Race Before Race, a consortium of scholars and institutions that seek racial justice in the field of pre-modern literary studies. And she's establishing the UK's first ever scholars of colour network. Farah: welcome.

Farah Karim-Cooper:
Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.

Paul:
I wonder how you first became interested in Shakespeare.

Farah:
Well, I might sound a little bit like a cliché, but it was when I was in high school. I was, I met Shakespeare when I was 15 years old. I was in ninth grade and we were studying Romeo and Juliet. And I remember my teacher wasn't very good at teaching Shakespeare, but she showed us Franco Zeffirelli's film and I thought it was absolutely mesmerizing.  Dazzling. And I recall thinking that it was Zeffirelli's passion rather than my teacher's passion that was infectious. So that was the first time I really met Shakespeare. And I remember thinking at the time that, you know, I come from a Pakistani background, I remember thinking, gosh, this is like being a Pakistani girl, you know, where your father decides, you know, traditional Pakistani families, mine, wasn't very traditional, you know, who you marry and there's this sort of, a kind of similarity between Juliet and the female ancestors in my family.  And then I kind of became disinterested after that until I went to university and I absolutely fell in love with Shakespeare, because of my first year Shakespeare professor who was marvellous. And I realized at that time that I wanted to do something like she was doing.

Paul:
What was her name?

Farah:
Her name is Kay Stanton. You probably know her because yes. So she, this was at California State University Fullerton, and she walked in, she had, she was dressed in a beautiful suit and she had these amazing shoes and amazing bag. And she started talking about Shakespeare and really doing forensic close-readings that really I've never, I had never done before. I thought, Oh my God, I want to do what she does. I want to teach Shakespeare. I want to know everything there is to know about Shakespeare. And I always want my shoes and my bag to match.

Paul:
Well you know everything there is to know about Shakespeare : what about the shoes in the bag?

Farah:
I'm still working on that.

Paul:
So I mentioned Shakespeare's globe quite prominently just now, but what do you, what do you actually do for Shakespeare's globe and the wider Shakespeare network:  how would you describe what you do? And indeed the difference it makes.

Farah:
So I, I trained as an academic, I function as an academic. I publish books. I teach, I do all of that, but I get to do it in a place where you put your knowledge into practice. So my work there as Head of Higher Education and Research, I work within the education team and I'm in charge of scholarship across the Globe.

The Globe was described once as the largest arts and humanities research project. And so researchers had always been invested in it. Scholars had always been a part of that project. And so to have a resident scholar on site to take over after Andrew Gurr had left the Globe was very much the intention because we wanted to learn what, you know, we were finding out about the buildings. We wanted to be able to pass that knowledge on. And so my job there is to oversee a lot of the courses, well all the courses that we're teaching, including our flagship Master's programme, which we co-teach with Kings College, London.

Paul:
That's been going many years, hasn't it?

Farah:
Yes. I think it's approaching its 20th year and I've been teaching it for 16 of them. And also I look after the library and archive. And so the wonderful archivist works with me on preserving our institutional memory and our collections. And I work with the actors and directors and, in terms of research dramaturgy, if they want to know something about the buildings, they want to know something about the plays, the world of the plays.
I have a wonderful team of researchers who work with me, and we support the theatre productions as well. So, and then the architecture research group, of course, which is what a group of scholars and practitioners and theatre-makers who oversee I suppose are, or are custodians of the theatre buildings, right? So, making sure that the historical integrity of the Globe Theatre is retained in terms of its fabric. And then I helped as the chair of the architectural research group, the research and design process for building the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, which is our indoor Jacobean candle-lit theatre.

Paul:
These are exquisite spaces.  I'll never forget the first time I visited Shakespeare's Globe. It was for the very first matinee performance, which was back in the summer, it would have been August, 1997, no '96. And it was The Two Gentlemen of Verona. And I remember crossing over the bridge and seeing this theatre on the other side. I thought about the description of Hal 'as if angel dropped down from the clouds', getting onto this horse. And it was as if the Globe had just kind of landed, like an angel, on the Southbank. And I went inside and I burst into tears because of the, you know, one was overwhelmed by the beauty of the place and the design of the place. And I'm thinking actually, what you said about being bowled over by Zeffirelli and how Zeffirell's - you know, all of his films are just beautiful to look at, aren't they? And especially, you know, the Romeo and Juliet film you mentioned. And I think of his film about St. Francis of Assisi Brother Son, Sister Moon, as it were, stepping back into that, you know, medieval world. Do you ever, do you still have that same sense of thrill when you walk into these spaces?  And do you think about Zeffirelli and stage design?

Farah:
Absolutely. I think there are, I've had a few opportunities over the years to leave the Globe, and work somewhere else, and it's always been at a time when there was something else interesting that I was just about to finish or just about to start working on, so I thought, no, I won't leave yet. And part of it is those two buildings. You walk into the Globe and you're absolutely right: there is a sort of magic, a sort of homecoming, so to speak. I didn't really understand what that was. I mean, I've always sort of loved Shakespeare and I followed the reconstruction project really closely and, and I also went to see that Two Gents of Verona in the prologue season and in '96, as a grad student and just - every day that I was able to walk in there and I feel it much more acutely now because I haven't been in that theatre for so long - because of lockdown - that I feel so lucky that I have such a beautiful space and I get to take my students in there and it's, it's my teaching room sometimes. And I'm so aware of how fortunate I am to work in that kind of scenario.

Paul:
It's also, wearing your research hat, your laboratory, isn't it, in a way.

Farah:
Utterly. Absolutely. Yeah.

Paul:
So you've been working on the Shakespeare and Race festivals for three years now, I think the third one's just happened, hasn't it, a few weeks ago. Tell us about those. Where, where did they come from? Why did they happen?

Farah:
So it was at the SAA in 2017, I believe it was. I went to a panel called the colour of membership. I don't know if you were there, but it was a fantastic panel of scholars talking about the state of play in Shakespeare Studies, and in terms of where scholars of colour sit, and the -  a lot of the conversation afterwards revolved around the sort of marginalization that was felt by scholars of colour and by their work.  So I kind of went back to the Globe and I was thinking about conferences. I had been hosting conferences there and lectures and talks for years, and I thought, gosh, I have not really done my part in representation. Usually I'm the only scholar of colour in the room. And so I thought I want to host an event.

So that I could centralize, because the Globe is such an icon, like the Birthplace is, and I wanted to centralize those voices of those scholars. Many of whom have been writing since the nineties, since the eighties. And so I put together, I put together a conference a two-day symposium, but as part of a wider festival that was looking at theatre practice, it was looking at teaching. It was looking at research and scholarship and focusing on Race. And I wanted to invite scholars in the UK as well, but I was struck that there were so few scholars of colour, employed by UK universities. And I thought, gosh, there's me. And there's a few other of my, of my colleagues that I know well, but there's not that many more.  And scholars, black scholars were not employed by universities, and teaching Shakespeare specifically - until very recently. So I thought, my goodness, I'm really going to have to invite, you know, a lot of the scholars from elsewhere in the world. So we had scholars from India, from Mexico, one scholar from Africa, and then we had a lot of critical race scholars from the US and it was such an important event, and it taught me so much about the texts and the way they've been read in ways that I hadn't been thinking about for a long time. I did do some work on Race, back in 2006 and 2007, and in my book, my first book. But not really as sort of penetratively as I was listening to. And so I became very, very focused on that as a way of leading my own research subsequently.

Paul:
But the SAA, you mentioned the panel. I do remember I did. I don't think I went to the panel, but I went to the annual general meeting of the SAA that year. And scholars of colour and the inclusion of the society, and as it were, modellings of best practice were discussed in a way that I had not encountered before in any institution anywhere. And I found it really inspiring and empowering to hear that kind of discussion going on. It was the AGM, I think.

Farah:
It was, yes. I was struck by that too. I think the SAA used - when I was attending SAS as an early career scholar and as a grad student, I found it intimidating and nerve-wracking.
I would never have been able to stand up at an AGM and speak. But I think that the diversification of the board and the, a lot of the policy work that's been going on there in the last few years has enabled those kinds of spaces to open up.

Paul:
Thank you for making the distinction a moment ago between 'colour' - scholars of colour  - and black scholars. Could you say a bit more about that distinction please? 'Cause it's not, it's not one.. One's aware of different terms, but how you would, how you would make the difference as it were.

Farah:
Yes. I mean, there's never really, there is still, isn't a satisfactory term to encompass, you know, I don't like to use this phrase, but I'll use it just for this purpose, 'non-white' people. And that's because of the vast number of differences, you know, the, the geographies and the languages, and, you know, you can't group everybody together, but it is important to distinguish between black scholars and scholars of colour because anti-black racism is a very particularized kind of racism. It's the one that's the focus certainly in America at the moment. And that is not as a Pakistani, a way of saying that other kinds of racism are not as important. It's just distinguishing those two things. It's, it's quite important because the experiences, the lived experiences can be so various.

Paul:
Yeah, as it were the different kinds of poison that are dealt out by wider culture.

Farah:
Right. Exactly.

Paul:
So, so you were making a stand and you started these Shakespeare and Race festivals. What, what did you hope they might achieve?

Farah:
I was hoping to sort of bring awareness, initially to our field, to the state of play that we had something like 2,500 or 3000, Shakespeare scholars in the SAA, and only a handful were black scholars or scholars of colour. I wanted to draw attention. And the way to do that was by getting Shakespeare's Globe - a lot of people perceive the Globe and the Birthplace as kind of motherships of Shakespeare, right? These are the places where you go to, the pilgrimage sites, if you love Shakespeare. And so, how powerful would that be to use one of those pilgrimage sites to say, actually, this is a topic. This is a subject. This is an author for more than one kind of person, and I wanted to do that in really visible ways. And so I felt like that was achieved. It was, it was a struggle because a lot of people don't want to hear about Shakespeare and Race, it makes them uncomfortable.

Paul:
Especially if they turn up as it were for the heritage experience.

Farah:
Indeed, indeed.

Paul:
Something cosy and quaint. And as it were easily controllable.

Farah:
Exactly. Which is everything Shakespeare wasn't. If you go back to his original Globe, I'm sure that there was nothing cosy about that, but yes, that is indeed an experience that people want. And I think that, that that the Shakespeare and Race festival made people go, made people kind of question: why, why are we thinking about this? But the fact that we were able to put a spotlight on the voices of black actors, the experiences of actors, of colour, who aren't well lit in theatres and micro-aggressions and macro-aggressions that happen in rehearsal rooms around the world.

And so it was really important that those conversations took place and I think that the Globe leadership sort of went, “Oh, actually this is, this is important. We need to be thinking about this more deeply” and that, that felt like an achievement as well.

Paul:
And it seemed like no time at all that then suddenly we're not suddenly, but inspiringly, there was the all black Richard II, female production at the Globe, in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

Farah:
Yeah. Yes. I mean, I should say since Mark's time, Mark Rylance when he was artistic director, black actors, actors of colour have been on our stages. And I think there was a move towards making that more visible. Even than it was in the past, but, yeah, Adjoa Andoh, who is very, very eloquent about why she wanted to do this, Michelle Terry had wanted her to come and direct something and Adjoa had suggested Richard II because one of the performances would have been on the night of Brexit back in March of that year. And she wanted to make a statement about what Englishness is, what Britishness is, what empire is, and really sort of put at the centre of that, the black experience, which of course, if you've read David Olusoga's fabulous book you'll know that black people have long been part of English history. It's just a history that we haven't told very well.

Paul:
The title of the book for our listeners, please.

Farah:
I think it's called Black British History. It's right behind me. Oh, it's called Black and British.

Paul:
There we go.

Farah:
Yes. So I suppose that was part of her agenda and it was quite extraordinary that production and a landmark.

Paul:
What's most surprised you in terms of the outcomes of the Shakespeare and Race festivals so far?

Farah:

That's a really good question. I think what's surprised me is I want to say some of the resistance to it, but it shouldn't surprise me because I know that discomfort is not easy, but I suppose I had some quite, aggressive resistance from various members of the, of the public and I've had, you know, messages and, you know, telling me that I'm dumbing down, why am I trying to dumb down Shakespeare?, and you know, why can't we... I even got a letter once saying, please make sure there are no more black Henry Vs, you don't want to see any white Othellos, so why should there be black Henry Vs? And I just, I didn't know what to do with that letter. I thought I need to publish it in my next book. It was just a shocking. So I think that probably surprised me more than it should have, because I'm not naive about, you know, racism, and I'm not naive about the sort of subtle aspects of racism, which isn't overt or sensationalist or aggressive, but underlying. So, that, I found that a bit surprising and very, very sad actually.

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Anjna Chouhan:
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the charity that promotes the life work and times of William Shakespeare in his hometown of Stratford upon Avon. We look after the five houses associated with Shakespeare and his family, we make freely available an internationally important library, archive and museum collection. We lead new research and we run an award-winning education program. In light of this podcast, please consider making us a donation. You can do this by visiting shakespeare.org.uk/donate. Your support and goodwill really matter to us. And we hope you'll recommend our podcast to your friends.

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Paul:
I remember being caught by the idea of, when we talk about Race, we're obviously we're also talking about whiteness.

Farah:
Yes.

Paul:
And that to teach Shakespeare and Race - I had had this at the panel at the SAA, not the one you were describing, but a later one - is to think about Shakespeare and whiteness and that we should be teaching whiteness as much as thinking about colour.

Farah:

Yes, absolutely. Whiteness as a colour is important because it means that white people also have a racial identity and there is no sense of invisibility or normativity with that whiteness.

Paul:
And of course, for people who are perhaps thinking about Shakespeare and Race, and they're thinking perhaps of just a handful of characters across the cannon, when you, when you realise it's about whiteness as well, it's like the whole cannon, every single play can be included, can be included in this discussion.

Farah:
Indeed.

Paul:
Yeah. Would you construct Shakespeare as a racist writer? Would you, would that be a construction that you would wish to go along with, or interrogate in some way, or discuss? And if he, I mean, he's writing in a racist period because we're still racist. So, you know, he's, he's definitely writing at a time when there was racism. What would you do with that as a starting point for discussion about this?

Farah:
I think that's a, it's such an important question. There's so much, we don't know about Shakespeare. When I teach Shakespeare, to a diverse group of students, I often talk about Shakespeare's dark ladies and I talk about, I kind of make this joke at Shakespeare, liked brown girls. So, I, as a brown woman, I feel like, if Shakespeare was racist, I probably wouldn't want to teach his work. I probably wouldn't want to spend time in it. I probably wouldn't want to, you know, devote my life and my career to it. So I personally can't see him as being racist and maybe that's me not wanting to see him as racist, but also, I don't know if I know enough about him, the man. I would say that Shakespeare's work engages with race. It is preoccupied with racial difference. It's preoccupied with language tropes that highlight racial differences. For example, we in our past, our last race festival, we had a short documentary about with two wonderful actors and the director who were going to be performing it in our season before lockdown.

And we talked about some of the racialized language in, you know, talking about Juliet, hanging like a pearl from an Ethiop's ear, and a black actor needs to think and talk about what it means for him to say those words when he's offended by the term 'Ethiop', because elsewhere, for example, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, it's used very disparagingly, when Lysander calls Hermia an 'Ethiop'.  These are important things to highlight in Shakespeare's work. So that actors who speak these words can find a space for themselves in the plays, and in the poems. That isn't saying Shakespeare is racist. Shakespeare used language tropes that highlighted racial difference. And yeah, some of the language is really racist and that's uncomfortable. But I, I guess I wouldn't like Shakespeare so much if he only ever made me comfortable.

Paul:
Well, I suppose, I mean, one of the things that we might assume that there was a period of time when it was not uncomfortable, but probably it always has been for many people.

Farah:
Exactly exactly. And we have to interrogate those as scholars. We have to look at them and we have to work with our students to sort of reconcile and understand them because Shakespeare has such lasting importance in our society and around the world. That in order for students to continue sort of reading and performing Shakespeare, they need to come to grips with some of those things that actually jar when they, when they read a passage from Shakespeare. It's, it's so important.

Paul:
So in terms of Shakespeare's lasting importance, and playing devil's advocate slightly, what would you say to somebody who said, 'Oh, well, we're just using Shakespeare as a mouthpiece for our own cultural anxieties and concerns. We're not, by bringing all this to the plays, we're just not interpreting them in the way that we should be'.

Farah:
Yeah, I would say that the beauty of Shakespeare obviously is his capaciousness. Like the number of meanings that can be pulled from Shakespeare's plays by different people from - in different time periods, in different geographical locations - it's, it's endless, it's limitless. And I think we close Shakespeare down when we say, 'Oh, you're just using him as a you're using this as a mouthpiece. It could, it should only be interpreted like this'. Nobody can tell me how to interpret Shakespeare. I interpret Shakespeare as a human who's had my experiences with my training and this is what I bring to it. I guess what I would say is that Shakespeare can be and should be a mouthpiece for, or rather a site to explore, the most urgent questions of our moment. Because if we sit around and think Shakespeare was not concerned with urgent questions of his moment, then we're not really understanding Shakespeare. We're just revering him and idealizing him and mythologizing him when actually he needs to be read and understood with the same kinds of urgent questions that he was in his own time, and that appeal to our own time.

Paul:
It's a bit like we were saying a moment ago about the heritage experience, isn't it? That, you know, you can't control Shakespeare in that way. And that to have ... If art is going to be living then art needs to generate always new conversations, doesn't it, and new ways of thinking about the work itself, and continuing and broadening those discussions.

Farah:
Absolutely. I mean, being nostalgic about the past, I think is okay. As long as you understand that past, I think in the, in the way we taught history for years and years and years is that there were only white people that Shakespeare would have encountered, except that time that the Moorish ambassador came over to the court, which is just not true.  It's just a, it's just a false narrative. And there may have been, we understand now from Imtiaz Habib's work, that actually there were black people living in Tudor, England and Shakespeare may have encountered them in his own audience. We don't know. So if we understand that that is the past and we can teach that that past actually may have been more diverse than we understand it can help us to reconcile some of the issues we have around diversity today.

Paul:
I remember being struck by the phrase 'There's no such thing as colour-blind casting'. And that was, that felt that that felt very modern when I heard that about six years ago for the first time, because until I'd heard it, people were still talking about, 'Oh, of course, it's colour-blind casting', whereas actually the point is we always see colour and that, and that matters. And that should matter in a production because it makes us hyper self-conscious about how we do cast and the stories we're telling visually and dramatically through our casting choices.

Farah:

Yes. I mean, casting is a really important question here because, you might remember, I think it was, gosh, 2000 - and is it 2006 - Ayanna Thompson's collection of essays on colour-blind casting: that's the last time anyone did a book about that topic. You know, it's time for another one, because it's problematic. And while there were some really noble reasons for implementing colour-blind casting, you know, it's about opening the pipeline into the theatres, what ends up happening is actors of colour are asked to erase their bodies in a way that white actors are never, ever asked. And that kind of erasure is harmful. It also is very difficult for audiences to actually make sense sometimes. So we like to talk about colour conscious casting or racially attentive casting.

So if you have a character who might actually, if it's played by someone of colour, might, I suppose, perpetuates cultural stereotypes or racial stereotypes: how about not putting that actor there? How about recasting it in a way that doesn't reinforce a kind of racist set of ideologies that happens with colour-blind casting.

Paul:
Yes. So this, this helps to remove my anxiety if only in an imaginary way of, you know, what happens to the next Prince of Morocco I see The Merchant of Venice.

Farah:
Yeah.

Paul:
'Cause it's just such a hotspot of a racist stereotype, isn't it?

Farah:
Oh God. It is.

Paul:
Usually. And it doesn't have to be, but it's often performed that way and the, the text allows it to be for, be performed that way, but it doesn't have to be.

Farah:
It doesn't have to be, it really doesn't have to be. And that scene is so uncomfortable because of the, the racism of Portia and Nerissa around those - all those kinds of stereotypes that they're making. You know Kim Hall has a really amazing essay on The Merchant of Venice, where she talks about the fact that the Prince of Morocco, not only does he not get Portia by failing the casket test, he's not allowed to reproduce. And what does that mean? What does that saying about race is a question that actually we, we tend not to ask.

Paul:
So, you know, maybe if we, if we, obviously we take this, all these things as highly self-conscious on Shakespeare's part, I suppose, in, in one way of interpreting them. So, you know, we're not, maybe we're not meant to especially like Portia and Nerissa for their opinions.

Farah:
Indeed

Paul:
And, you know, maybe, maybe that's part of the critical distance on the characters that we're being invited to take.

Farah:
It's so interesting with The Merchant of Venice, because Shakespeare makes it really hard for you to, to sort of latch onto one particular character all the time, because you think, 'Oh God, that's kind of despicable what you just said.'

Paul:
A thoroughly unlikable lot apart from Old Gobbo, I think.

Farah:
And, you know, it kind of, it's a really, yeah, that play's, obviously there's so much horror about that play, because of what happens to Shylock at the end of the play as well. It's really, really difficult to reconcile that, which is another thing Kim Hall talks about how you look at the role that Portia plays in redistributing the wealth to the sort of white Christians in the play, and so it's not only the cruelty that Shylock suffers, but it's also, what's taken from him in terms of identity and property.

Paul:
Coming back to Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon, and as it were the heritage experience, but that being part of the on-going conservation of the Birthplace Trust for people to learn more about Shakespeare in own times: if you were to choose one of the five Shakespeare houses to live in, I wonder which you’d choose and why.

Farah:
I was thinking about that question. And actually I think that I would prefer the, the, the, the Birthplace itself: Shakespeare's house, right? Because when I first made my pilgrim, my first ever pilgrimage to Stratford upon Avon, I was still an undergraduate. And I came here with my parents and, I said, I want to go to Stratford. I want to go to Stratford and I want to see Shakespeare's house. I want to see where he was born. And I remember going through his bedroom and seeing that little cradle, and then seeing the window that was scratched with all of those amazing names of people who had travelled through. And I thought, Oh my gosh, this place, I cannot believe what, you know, who's been in this room and, how can I absorb those identities. So I would imagine that that's actually the house that I would want to live in. And I remember taking my daughter on a tour there and she was so taken with the furniture and just the windiness of the stairs - you know, it was just a really...  It's authentic.

And often we talk about this at the Globe where, you know, we think, I think years ago there was a question of whether we should dress up people in Tudor clothes, you know, the tour guides and that kind of thing. And I said, no, we cannot do that because we don't have authentic buildings. We have facsimiles.

So I feel like it would sort of change the experience. It's a different kind of thing. But you have actual buildings, you have buildings that Shakespeare moved through. And so....it's okay to sort of recreate a world so that people can go back and go, 'Oh, that might have been like that, but this might have been like this'.  And I think that's - I think that's the uniqueness of the Birthplace, actually.

Paul:
You've used our archive and our library for many years. If you are able to take with you for keeps something from our collections, whether that's a book, or a document, or an object, I wonder what you choose and why, and why you take it away with you. Why do you want it?

Farah:
Well, do you know what, I mean, for a while, I was, I was working on The Duchess of Malfi, so I was doing a lot of research on death and I, I got this sort of, I built a Pinterest board of all of these amazing objects related to death that came from the Tudor and Stuart period, like signet-rings with momento moris on them and, bracelets with skeletons. I mean, they were just extraordinary objects that people use to sort of remind themselves their mortality. So I guess it would be the seal, sort of signet-ring of a momento mori that I saw in your objects in your museum. Although it's a skull. I know that sounds a bit morbid, but it's just, it's a way of thinking about being alive now and our mortality and what do we do with the time that we have?  So I suppose that would be my response.

Paul:
Thank you. Farah Karim-Cooper: it has been a great joy listening to you and hearing what you've got to say. Thank you for helping us to see Shakespeare differently, both on the page and on the stage and keep doing it. Keep doing what you do.

Farah:
And you keep doing what you do.  Thank you so much, Paul, for having me.

Paul:
So, what would you like to deposit in the collections of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust: something real or imaginary? We'd love to hear from you via shakespeare.org.uk/future. And while you're there, please consider completing our short survey, so we can produce more of the content that you like.

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Anjna:
Thank you for listening to this week's episode of Shakespeare Alive with Paul. Next week, I'll be speaking with stick-figure artist and Shakespeare super-fan, Mia Gosling of GoodTickleBrain.com fame. Join us as we discuss how she breaks down barriers to Shakespeare, making his works feel accessible, and most importantly fun.