Danai Gurira To Play Richard III In Stage Production, Because She Has The Range

In casting news that will make you jump up and do the triumphant Bender pose from "The Breakfast Club," Danai Gurira will play the titular role in Shakespeare's "Richard III" for New York's Free Shakespeare in the Park, according to Deadline. This is brilliant casting and beyond exciting. I no longer live in New York City, but I would absolutely go back to see this.

Here is the info on the production, which, if you can, you should see:

Tony Award nominee Robert O'Hara (Slave Play, The Public's Barbecue) brings his sharp wit and story-telling genius to The Delacorte with a bold new production of RICHARD III. One of Shakespeare's most indelible villains, Richard is determined to be King. Following his lust for power and the throne, he manipulates, kidnaps, and kills all who stand between him and his throne, using brilliant words and dark charm to conceal his dismantling of government and justice. This masterful dive into the muddy middle between political genius and violent power grab will open Free Shakespeare in the Park's 60th Season with piercing relevancy and electrifying drama.

An Honest Tale Speeds Best, Being Plainly Told

Gurira is known for her work in the MCU as Okoye, and in AMC's "The Walking Dead" as Michonne. She's also been nominated for a Tony Award for writing the play "Eclipsed," and has appeared in Shakespeare productions before including "Measure for Measure" for Shakespeare in the Park. 

In a statement, Artistic Director Oskar Eustis said of the new production:

"Our dearly beloved Danai Gurira will be giving us her version of this extraordinary character. Shakespeare's Richard created the model for politics as an extension of show business – with devastating results. As always, Shakespeare seems to be speaking directly into our contemporary dreams and nightmares."

"Richard III" was written around 1592–1594 by William Shakespeare, and tells the story of King Richard III who rose to power in England, maybe killed the princes in the tower to do so, and came to a bad end. It's a powerful role, and the real person it speaks of is really polarizing. Richard III has long been considered a villain, but has fans who refuse to believe what they think is bad press.  

There is also a great history of different genders playing roles in Shakespeare. Women didn't perform when the plays were written (not often, anyway, and not professionally), and many productions like "The Tempest" have changed the genders of some of the characters before. For example, Helen Mirren played the role of Prospero (as Prospera) in Julie Taymor's film "The Tempest."

There is no information on dates for the production yet. Free Shakespeare in the Park will also perform "As You Like It." We'll keep an eye on the website for you!