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RSC hails success of Year-Long Complete Works


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#11 richard

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 07:07 AM

QUOTE(Jan Brock @ Apr 12 2007, 07:23 AM) View Post
I think a non-black actor can play Othello. I think a non-Jewish actor can play Shylock.

Actually I think that Othello's colour is fairly peripheral to the play - I don't think racism is a driving force in Iago's relationship with him which is at the core of the play. The fact that Othello is an "outsider" is of more consequence, but this can be indicated in many ways other than by his colour - by making him a muslim for example (which I have seen).



#12 richard

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 07:14 AM

wink.gif  Surely Othello's colour is absolutely central to Iago's feelings about him, from the first scene onwards - 'an old black ram is tupping your white ewe'.

Verdi's Otello is one of the peaks of lyric drama, if not the greatest of all operas.  Would people disqualify Jon Vickers, Placido Domingo etc, from singing the part, because they are white singers?

Have thought about the Lear/age question too.

One of the finest performances of Lear I ever saw was in a school production with an 18 year old in the main part.  In his way, he was just as unforgettable as McKellen in Stratford this month.

#13 teaboy

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Posted 16 April 2007 - 06:54 PM

Is it central to the character that Othello be black? Is it central to the character that Romeo and Juliet be of different genders? Can only women play female characters and men play men?

Do not actors/directors interpret writing to put their own shine on things?

IT'S CALLED 'ACTING'!

Theatre is about getting past the 'literal' of what's before you on stage, and using your imagination to believe what the performers are showing you.
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#14 Jan Brock

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 06:55 AM

QUOTE(richard @ Apr 12 2007, 08:14 AM) View Post
wink.gif  Surely Othello's colour is absolutely central to Iago's feelings about him, from the first scene onwards - 'an old black ram is tupping your white ewe'.


I don't think I have ever seen a production where Iago's actions are presented as being motivated mainly by racism. One could argue that the quote you highlight is simply Iago playing on the racism of another character. If that line were deleted from the play, and Othello was played by a white actor, how much would actually be lost from the play ? Surprisingly enough, I think the answer is "not much".

#15 Lynette

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 05:47 PM

This is a tough one. But remember that we have had a black Henry V at the RSC and a very good one. And loads of black courtiers and heroines all over the place in Stratford and no one bats an eyelid. What we haven't had ..yet..is a black Hamlet [ have we??] or a black Benedict [ maybe I missed one here, dunno] so what I am saying is, we are getting there. We are beginning to be colour blind. So in that case, why not a white Othello and don't 'black up'? I think it is the blacking up that is insulting, no? Overtones of the black and white minstrels and the American deep south early jazz bands.  If black actors feel they have had a raw deal, then they will object to a white Othello. If they are getting the meaty parts I think they will rethink the Othello issue.   Do you have to be a murderer to play Macbeth?  Didn't Sarah Bernhardt play Hamlet with a wooden leg at a ripe old middle age? Did all the Danish princes object? No, but I bet the male actors of her day did. Michael Gambon would make a good Othello...on the radio.




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