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Do artists have moral responsibilities to speak truth to power? Should art comment on or steer clear of politics? How might politics affect artistic creativity? Where do we draw the line? MIT Global Shakespeares co-founder Alexa Alice Joubin spoke on the topic.

In May 2017, a series of events explored these questions. Sponsored by the British Council and British Embassy in Washington DC, an event at the British Ambassador’s Residence featured Dominic Dromgoole (London Globe), Alexa Alice Joubin (George Washington University), Michael Witmore (Folger Library), and other speakers. Along with the audience, the speakers drew on their personal experience and area of work to discuss the power of theatre, literature and journalism to promote free speech. Using the work of Shakespeare as a starting point, they debated the various ways in which his work has been used throughout the centuries to channel dissent and how his voice resonates in today’s debates on openness, creativity and free speech.

In Brooklyn, New York, Index on Censorship and the British Council sponsored another event  featuring readings by 2016 Forward Prize winner Vahni Capildeo, and a panel discussion with renowned theatre director Dominic Dromgoole, Alexa Alice Joubin, and Jodie Ginsberg (CEO, Index on Censorship). The event was moderated by Sandra Gibson (Principal & Managing Director, Devos Institute). This program is part of Shakespeare Lives, a global program celebrating the continuing resonance of Shakespeare around the world led by the British Council and the GREAT Britain Campaign. The global program officially ended in 2016, but some activities will continue in the USA and worldwide in 2017.

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