Actor Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker; The Adjustment Bureau), during a visit to our fair city last week, was asked about how a part in William Shakespeare’s King Lear in his high school influenced his decision to become an actor. “I was so blown away by how this white dude who lived 500 years ago could write so many stories that pertain to me as a black dude living in America today.” he said. (Dallas Morning News, 1/26/2012, p. C1)
Mr. Mackie may have been blown away, but I’m not; his perception was not surprising at all. I have been a fan of the Bard since high school days and have read and/or seen performances of a good number of his plays – at least most of the well known ones. Shakespeare tells stories that give profound insight into the human condition, and tells them in memorable style, grand without being grandiose. His statement also confirms that, whatever Mr. Mackie’s complexion, he is a descendant of the culture of the English Renaissance and the inception of the tongue that conquered the world. And it’s another confirmation of the late Samuel P. Huntington’s thesis that language and religion have more to do with people’s affinity for each other than race or ethnicity.