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Director of American Shakespeare Center to Lecture on Shakespeare and Leadership

Dr. Ralph Cohen
Dr. Ralph Cohen
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What can murderous Scotsmen and devious Viennese teach us about leadership in the contemporary world? On Oct. 20, Dr. Ralph Cohen, director of the American Shakespeare Center (ASC), will pose this question in a lecture entitled "Shakespeare: Lessons in Leadership" at Washington and Lee University.

Cohen's public lecture, which will be presented at 7:30 p.m. in Lee Chapel, will be the first act in a three-day Shakespeare event to be held at W&L and Virginia Military Institute.

The event continues on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 21 and 22, as the travelling company of ASC will perform two plays from their Restless Ecstasy Tour. "Measure for Measure" will be performed on Thursday, Oct. 21, while "Macbeth" will be staged on Friday, Oct. 22. Both plays will be at 7:30 p.m. in Marshall Hall on the VMI campus. All three events are free and open to the public.

"Measure for Measure" shows the confusion that ensues after the duke of Vienna transfers his powers to a trusted friend. Through hypocrisy, lust and greed, the play crafts scenes of both comedy and tragedy. "Macbeth" is the story of a Scottish lord and his wife who attain the throne via murders, betrayal and schemes. Both plays explore the abusive use of power of Shakespearean leaders and the consequences they suffer. Although they are over 400 years old, both plays raise important questions about morality, justice and responsibility.

The American Shakespeare Center is located in Staunton, Virginia at the Blackfriars Playhouse, the world's only re-creation of Shakespeare's original indoor theater. In 1988, Cohen and Jim Warren, currently artistic director of ASC, founded the Shenandoah Shakespeare Express, a travelling troupe that has evolved into the present day ASC.

Cohen received his doctorate from Duke University and went on to become a professor of English at James Madison University, where he won Virginia's award for outstanding faculty. He has directed more than twenty productions of Elizabethan plays and has written one book: ShakesFear and How to Cure It: A Handbook for Teaching Shakespeare.

The three-day lecture and performance series is cosponsored by the Center for Leadership and Ethics at VMI and the Johnson Lecture Series at W&L. The Center for Leadership and Ethics was established to advance the understanding, practice and integration of leadership and character development at VMI. The Johnson Lecture Series supports speakers and programs that address important issues in leadership and integrity.