A top London university has issued an unreserved apology after students were asked to recite what were described as “extraordinarily outdated and offensive” lines about Jews being owed money by dukes.
It comes after learners enrolled on a voice production course at City Lit University in Covent Garden said the subject-matter of some of the lines used to express sound were “more acceptable in Shakespeare’s day than in 2015”.
During the 10-week course, which costs more than £160, those wanting to improve their vocal clarity were asked to say: “The duke paid the money that was due to the Jew before the dew was off the grass on Tuesday. The Jew, having duly acknowledged it, bade adieu to the duke forever.”
University leaders said it was “inappropriate” and that an investigation would follow. “This exercise does not hold true to the core values and promotion of equality and diversity I expect of my team,” said head of drama Tuirenn Hurstfield.
“I would most certainly like to issue an apology on behalf of the department for this extraordinarily outdated and offensive approach to lesson content.”
He added: “The learner was rightly offended… I am addressing this across the whole curriculum area, comprising of some 500 City Lit has apologised for asking students to recite “offensive” lines about Jews owed money courses, and will be ensuring that our delivery/content is entirely appropriate for all learners.
“I am investigating this issue with the voice delivery team, as clearly we need to address the tutor responsible and provide support in their awareness and understanding of the offence they have caused in the first instance.”
The reaction comes after an anonymous reader raised concerns it was “perhaps more acceptable in Shakespeare’s day than in 2015”.
Those enrolling for City Lit’s Technical Voice Production course are told it will improve the “quality of your voice and standard of speech.”
The line about Jews was being recited in class as part of the group’s drills in vowel and consonant projection.