James Shapiro on his reading:
A few years ago, I spent many months researching plague in Shakespeare’s London—how it was misunderstood, the terrible toll it took on the population (wiping our nearly a sixth of Londoners in 1593, and again in 1603), and especially its impact on Shakespeare and on the public theaters, which were ordered closed when weekly plague deaths rose above thirty. I published what I learned in The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606. This week I’ve reread those pages, heartbroken. It’s no longer Elizabethan playwrights and actors whose lives and livelihood are endangered, but my close friends in the theater, on both sides of the Atlantic. I’ve consulted on a half-dozen productions set to air this spring and summer; none of them now will, a devastating loss at a time that we need theater most.
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