Video 09: Dear Mister Shakespeare

What is it?

This year the British Council has commissioned a series of films using Shakespeare's works as inspiration as part of Shakespeare Lives 2016; an unprecedented global programme celebrating William Shakespeare’s work and his influence on culture, education and society on the 400th anniversary of his death.

Dear Mister Shakespeare is the latest film in our Shakespeare Lives short film collection, and is inspired by William Shakespeare’s Othello.

Written and performed by visual artist Phoebe Boswell, the film takes the form of a rhetorical letter to Shakespeare, in which ‘the artist’ explores Shakespeare’s motivation in writing the character of Othello.

Of writing the piece Phoebe said “Shakespeare really examined the inherent nature of people - our weaknesses, strengths, prejudices, glories - which is why his work is timeless, and has consistently been how to progress. What was fascinating, alarming, disappointing, and deeply important to me when exploring how Shakespeare wrote Othello in the 1600s was that, even though the historic atrocities that constructed these racial power imbalances that still haunt and govern us today hadn't yet occurred, the fear of the ‘dark other’ was still present. That's a lot to think about, when contemplating what progress and a redressing of racial power imbalance might look like in the future.”

The film stars Ashley Thomas (actor and hip-hop artist aka Bashy) is directed by Shola Amoo, and both challenges and engages innovatively with Shakespeare’s famous depiction of ‘the Moor’, bringing to the fore Shakespeare’s glaring racial stereotyping of the protagonist, alongside his ability to subvert audience expectations of the same.

More information

Find out more about the Shakespeare 2016 celebrations on

You will be able to find all current and future Shakespeare Lives videos on the specific playlist on our UK YouTube channel.