Shakespeare Reimagined: Ran


A virtual discussion of Akira Kurosawa's epic reimagining of King Lear, featuring award-winning actor Will Lyman, and Peter Grilli, President Emeritus of The Japan Society of Boston.

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Ran is a 1985 reimagining of the story of King Lear, directed by renowned Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, in which he reimagines Shakespeare's King Lear as a singular historical epic set in sixteenth-century Japan. Majestic in scope, the film is Kurosawa's late-life masterpiece, a profound examination of the folly of war and the crumbling of one family under the weight of betrayal, greed, and the insatiable thirst for power. 

The discussion will feature award-winning actor Will Lyman, who starred in Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s production of King Lear in 2015, and Peter Grilli, President Emeritus of The Japan Society of Boston and a well-known specialist on Japanese history and culture. The discussion will be moderated by Wellesley Professor and Shakespeare scholar Yu Jin Ko.

Register to join us for the live virtual discussion on Wednesday, January 13 at 8pm EST over Zoom. Admission is $10 and includes a link to the live Zoom discussion (which will run approximately 60 minutes). Please note: the Coolidge and CSC are not able to provide direct links to the film, but patrons can find out where to rent and/or stream it here.


Peter Grilli is the former President of The Japan Society of Boston and a well-known specialist on Japanese history and culture. Raised in Japan for most of his childhood, he received BA and MA degrees in East Asian Studies from Harvard University. From 1975 to 1987, he was Director of the Film, Education, and Performing Arts Programs at the Japan Society of New York. He later headed The Japan Project of PBS (1986-89), and subsequently operated an independent consulting office in New York, specializing on Japan-related media, corporate communications, and cultural exchange. As a documentary filmmaker, Peter Grilli wrote or produced the films: Shinto: Nature, Gods and Man in Japan (1978); Dream Window: Reflections on the Japanese Garden (1992); Toru Takemitsu: Music for the Movies (1994); and Kurosawa (2001), a major 2-hour documentary biography of the great Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa, produced as a special program for PBS’ “Great Performances.” 

Will Lyman is a stage veteran of over 40 years, having worked with multiple companies in his hometown of Boston and at regional theaters around the country as well as Off Broadway (The Novelist, Trinity, The Passion of Dracula, The Grinding Machine). Recent notable performances include King Lear on the Boston Common, the world premiere of Israel Horovitz’s Man in Snow, Operation Epsilon, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Exits and Entrances, The Oil Thief (the last four of which won him the Norton Award), DollHouse, The Clean House, The Ice Breaker, Celebration, Nicholas Nickleby, All My Sons (IRNE Award), Timon of Athens, The Wrestling Patient, and King of the Jews. He is on the Board of the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, for whom he has previously performed in Hamlet, The Tempest, As You Like It, and Julius Caesar. He has been the narrator of the multi-award-winning PBS series FRONTLINE since 1984 and has appeared in several films, including Mystic River, Jaws, and Little Children.

Yu Jin Ko (moderator) is Professor of English at Wellesley College, where he has taught since 1995. His teaching and scholarly interests have centered on Shakespeare, especially Shakespeare in performance. A particular goal that has driven both his teaching and scholarship has been fostering collaboration between academia and the theatre. His published work includes numerous reviews of Shakespeare productions across America and the globe, as well as the following books: Mutability and Division on Shakespeare’s Stage (2004) and Shakespeare’s Sense of Character: On the Page and From the Stage (2012), the latter of which is a collection that brings together essays by scholars and theatre practitioners.

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