What Shakespeare does is it asks us to imagine together.
Shakespeare is ubiquitous in literature classes and theater, but the avenues of relating to his work are not always clear to young people and modern audiences. Some, such as Shakespeare scholar and professor Ayanna Thompson, argue that his plays make sense as living, breathing, adaptable instruments that can be shaped to fit the times. Playwright, director and professor James Ijames created a prime example of interpretation with his play “Fat Ham,” an adaptation of Hamlet that won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The two come together on stage at the festival to talk about what makes a good Shakespeare adaptation work, and why people have been inspired to run with his work and messages for centuries. Oskar Eustis, NYU Tisch School of the Arts professor and the artistic director of The Public Theater in New York, where “Fat Ham” premiered, moderates the conversation.