May 4 Shakespeare and the Law tackles politics, race in Obama’s America

Issue May 2009

Ralph Boyd, a former Department of Justice Civil Rights Division head and the current chairman and CEO of the Freddie Mac Foundation, will host a discussion on racial politics in Obama’s America at Shakespeare and the Law’s staged reading of Othello on Monday, May 4.

The production will feature Wayne Budd, a Goodwin Procter partner and a former U.S. attorney, who will play Othello. This year’s Shakespeare and the Law production will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Virginia Wimberly Theatre at 527 Tremont St. in Boston.

The first hour of the program will feature prominent judges, public officials and members of the bar performing an abridged version of the play, directed by Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s Artistic Director Steven Maler and produced by McCarter & English Partner Daniel J. Kelley. The event is co-sponsored by the MBA, the Federalist Society, the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and McCarter & English LLP.

Following the performance, a panel will discuss the legal and political issues addressed in the play and their application to today’s headlines. The play implicitly asks whether race is a factor in the tragedy of Othello’s undoing.

The participants will discuss whether Obama’s election makes racial preference laws and regulations an anachronism and whether the goals of the civil rights struggle have been fulfilled. The participants will also discuss whether racial prejudice still exists in the political and corporate arena and whether it will become an issue at the presidential level if Obama’s programs are not successful.

Participants will include federal judges Douglas Woodlock, Rya Zobel, Dennis Saylor and Nathaniel Gorton; former Civil Rights Commissioner Jennifer Braceras and Ropes & Gray Managing Partner John Montgomery.