Cincinnati Shakespeare reimagining ‘Night of the Living Dead’

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is commissioning and developing a modern adaptation of the 1968 independent horror film, “Night of the Living Dead,” reimagined for 2020 by LGBTQIA playwright, and Cincinnati native, Isaiah Reaves. The new play will receive a world-premiere workshop and reading, with the option to present it in an upcoming CSC Mainstage season.

Reaves’ “Night of the Living Dead” reimagines the classic as it might unfold with gay protagonist at the center, while also exploring the racial undertones of the 1968 film and how that would be interpreted in 2020. When an unknown plague brings corpses back to life, the characters in the story must confront their own biases around gender, sexuality, race, and leadership. The retelling will also examine the current global pandemic through the lenses of the classic horror film genre.

Cincy Shakes cast during a Zoom reading of “Night of the Living Dead”

The workshop and reading of “Night of the Living Dead” was shaped not only by playwright Isaiah Reaves, but by other members of Cincinnati’s queer community and LQBTQIA actors within CSC’s Resident Ensemble. The goal was to ensure that the focus of the play authentically represents Cincinnati’s queer community and inspires reflection among audience members.

According to the company’s press release, “Commissioning this new play aligns with CSC’s mission, purpose, and vision: to, above all, bring Shakespeare and the classics to life for all – all voices, points of view, experiences, beliefs, and values – by enrolling everyone in the creation of new work. This helps continue momentum and growth at the Otto M. Budig Theater, while simultaneously expanding access to the classics for audiences of all ages.”

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