About this Event
Drawing on research by leading Shakespeare scholars Jane Kingsley-Smith and Duncan Salkeld for the Black Lives in Shakespeare's England Project, Candace Scarborough has created 'blak mistrys,' a dance film that explores the identity of the ‘Dark Lady’ of Shakespeare's Sonnets as a Black woman and her possible connections to Black Luce, the notorious Clerkenwell madam.
Set to a haunting original musical score by Elizabeth de Lise, the film follows the ‘blak mistrys' through sixteenth century London. Using a blend of contemporary and historical dance themes inspired by the Sonnets and the historical records, 'blak mistrys' investigates the relationship between historical memory and imagination.
A discussion and Q&A with Candace Scarborough, Jane Kingsley-Smith and Duncan Salkeld will follow the film screening.
About Black Lives in Shakespeare's England
The figure of the ‘Dark Lady’ in Shakespeare’s Sonnets (1609) has long been a cause of discomfort and anxiety for white readers and scholars and has often seemed to inhibit engagement with the Sonnets by readers of colour. Following recent discussions about Shakespeare through the lens of Critical Race studies and Critical White studies, it is time for a reconsideration of the ‘blackness’ of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, examining the real-life Black woman who might have inspired this figure, but also analysing the racial tropes which construct blackness and whiteness in the Sonnets, and their part in the historical construction of racism or race craft later in the seventeenth century.
Through this lens, the project features significant contributions by two leading Shakespeare scholars, Professor Jane Kingsley-Smith and Professor Duncan Salkeld, and PhD student Candace Scarborough.
Jane Kingsley-Smith is a Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Roehampton, London. She is the author of three monographs: Shakespeare’s Drama of Exile (Palgrave, 2003), Cupid in Early Modern Literature and Culture (Cambridge, 2010) and The Afterlife of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (Cambridge, 2019), and a collection of essays, edited with William Rampone Jnr, called Shakespeare’s Global Sonnets: Appropriation, Adaptation, Performance (Palgrave, 2022). She has edited Love’s Labor’s Lost for the Norton 3 Shakespeare (2015) and the tragedies of John Webster and John Ford for Penguin (2014). She is currently editing Shakespeare’s Sonnets for the new Cambridge Shakespeare Editions.
Duncan Salkeld is the author of three monographs: Madness and Drama in the Age of Shakespeare (Manchester University Press, 1993), Shakespeare Among the Courtesans: Prostitution, Literature and Drama 1500-1650 (Ashgate, 2012), and Shakespeare and London (Oxford University Press, 2018). His archival research at Bridewell led to the argument that the Dark Lady of the Sonnets was Black Luce, a brothel-owner in Cheapside (and not Lucy Morgan, as previously thought) which was taken up by the African American poet, Caroline Randall Williams and inspired her poetry collection, Lucy Negro Redux (2015). He is currently working with Prof. Alan H. Nelson on transcribing the records of Bridewell Hospital, covering the years 1559- 1610, work which has already considerably expanded the evidence about the experience of Black Londoners.
Candace Scarborough is a movement artist and choreographer. She is currently a PhD student in Dance Studies at the University of Roehampton, London. She has performed and collaborated with a variety of artists and companies, including Helen Simoneau Danse, PearsonWidrig DanceTheater, and Kendra Portier/BANDportier. Candace was invited by Ohad Naharin to train with Batsheva Dance
Company in Israel and was certified as a Gaga teacher in 2017. Candace’s choreographic work has been presented at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, The Clarice, Joe’s Movement Emporium, Highways Performance Space and Baltimore Theater Project. Candace was a recipient of a 2019 Rubys Artist Grant to create velvet pony (2021), a dance film made in collaboration with Los Angeles-based artist Samantha Mohr. Candace received her MA in History from the University of Roehampton, London in 2022.
*This project is supported by a Southlands Methodist Trust Grant
Event Venue & Nearby Stays
Museum of the Order of St John, St John's Gate, London, United Kingdom