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Forget all those conspiracy theories about the Earl of Oxford; only a drinkin,’ brawlin,’ pub-dwellin’ man could have penned the potty-mouthed jokes that liven up even the Bard’s darkest dramas. In America we like our beer cold and our playwrights belligerent, so as far as we’re concerned, William has always been one of us. The new anthology Shakespeare in America traces his influence on every level of our national culture from poets to presidents. Tonight, to celebrate the book’s release, James Earl Jones returns to the Delacorte to read from Othello, reprising the role he first played here 50 years ago. Also appearing are Alec Baldwin (fresh off his Fifth Avenue biking arrest and subsequent hissyfit), performing scenes from Macbeth, and Steven Pasquale, belting songs from West Side Story (that counts as Shakespeare, right?), as well as readings by F. Murray Abraham, Elizabeth Alexander, E.L. Doctorow, Cynthia Nixon, and many more.
Mon., June 30, 8 p.m., 2014