Dear Mister Shakespeare is a short film tackling the symbolic black oppression in Shakespeare’s infamous play, Othello. The film is the most intimate for art, language, and poetry. Only in 2015 was the prohibition of blackface in Othello put in place.
Things that come to mind when you think racism are court cases, daily social oppression, slavery, and the Civil Rights Movement. Although these encounters with racism may be seen more prominently to the everyday eye, Dear Mister Shakespeare opened my eyes to oppression expressed through the art field, dating back to the 17th century, and even before then.
I attended the Dallas International Film Festival to support my cousin’s short. While watching the screening (it was a competition, so around 10 films were played) I had my first encounter with Dear Mr. Shakespeare. My cousin was doing press which ran late, so I actually walked in when the film had already started. Later on, my cousin told me the film had gone viral a few months ago; so naturally, I searched it up and watched the whole thing. Turns out, he wasn’t wrong. Dear Mr. Shakespeare was selected to be played Sundance, was Vimeo’s Staff Pick of the Week, and much more. I was captivated, amazed, and absolutely profoundly shocked at the incredible artistry of this film.
The honesty, the intensity, the boldness it takes to criticize Shakespeare! And every single piece of the film was the rawest element of truth. Because the truth is, in Othello, blacks are treated as the other, the worser, the lesser, and the less human. But this isn’t just in Othello, is it? This film is just a simple, specific portrayal of all the complexities blacks face in day to day life. Dear Mr. Shakespeare is just a short, perfected to precision on all the intricacies of racism dating back centuries ago.
I applaud the British Council, Phoebe Boswell (her artwork is crazy beautiful, check it out), Shola Amoo, and everyone else who took part in this lifechanging creation thank you. I urge you all to take a stance.
Defy all racism, all sexism, and any other sort of oppression. In the arts, in industry, in education, in legal matters, everywhere. You have it in you! Do it through film, writing, speaking YOU have the power.