Event—Public Programming

Performing Race: Past and Present

Explore how race was understood and performed on the early modern stage.

Vanessa Corredera, Allen Gilmore, and Ericka Ratcliff

This program will be held in-person at the Newberry and livestreamed on Zoom. The online version of this event will be live captioned.

How do we perform race? This event puts the spotlight on theater makers as they explore how race was understood and performed on the early modern stage, as well as its relevance for audiences today. Through a series of dynamic performances by actors from Congo Square Theatre and thought-provoking conversations, we will consider the legacy of pre-1800 theater in contemporary Black performance.

This program is being held in conjunction with the Newberry exhibition Seeing Race Before Race, generously supported by the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and Pam and Doug Walter.

You can purchase a copy of the exhibition catalog, Seeing Race Before Race: Visual Culture and the Racial Matrix in the Premodern World, from the Newberry Bookshop.

Speakers and Performers

Vanessa I. Corredera, associate professor and department chair of English at Andrews University, earned a PhD in English with an emphasis in Renaissance literature from Northwestern University. Her research focuses on the intersections between Shakespeare, race, and representation in contemporary popular culture, adaptations/appropriations, and performance. She is the author of Reanimating Shakespeare’s Othello in Post-Racial America.  

Allen Gilmore has performed on stages across the US, Canada, and Europe. Among his many awards are the 2015 Lunt-Fontaine Fellowship, the 2015 3Arts Prize, and the 2019 Nicholas Ruddall Prize. A former English teacher and veteran of the US Army Infantry who served in Germany, Mr. Allen hold a BFA in acting from Julliard and trained under Stella Adler at the Adler Studio, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. 

Ericka Ratcliff is an actor and director who has performed locally with such theaters as Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Victory Gardens, and Second City. A graduate of Roosevelt University, Ms. Ratcliff is an ensemble member with the House Theatre of Chicago and Congo Square Theater, as well as an artistic associate with Lookingglass Theatre. 

Cost and Registration

This program is free and open to all. Advance registration required.

Registration opens October 1.

In-Person Registration

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Past Public Programs

Check out video recordings of past Newberry public programs on our YouTube channel.



Seeing Race Before Race

Sep 08–Dec 30, 2023

Explore the roots of race from the Middle Ages to 1800.

Learn More

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