Actor John Douglas Thompson- Race and Relevance

John Douglas Thompson: So you’ve got a playwright who has written these plays over four hundred years ago but yet they are still performed today. He’s the most performed playwright every single year, from now probably until eternity. And there is a reason for that. It’s because he captured something about our human soul, about who and what we are. And I have always believed, as I said before, it extends to all of us. So it’s just not for me. I’m glad that it is for me, as well, that I’m included into that, but I think he has written all these plays to express the humanity of all races and religions and kinds and all that sort of stuff.

Because you look at Shakespeare’s work, it says, okay, he’s got three roles, let’s say, of color. You have Aaron the Moor, you have Othello the Moor, and then you have – I think the other one is – or perhaps could be played as one – is Caliban in The Tempest. But I think the actual amount of roles affordable to people who look like me – African American actors – is the whole gamut. Every role in Shakespeare: the Richards, the Macbeths, the Coriolanuses, the Rosalinds, the Cleopatras, the Hamlets. All those things are available to us because what Shakespeare wrote is not so much specifically color but humanity and as long as we can access our own humanity as we perform these plays we will find what Shakespeare wrote and it is colorless; it is just basically human.