The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.351 Thursday, 20 October 2016
Date: October 20, 2016 at 9:36:53 AM EDT
Subject: CFP Ira Aldridge at 210 and 150
Ira Aldridge at 210 and 150: Race in European Theatrical Cultures (ESRA 2017; Due: Jan 31 2017)
Seminar accepted for “Shakespeare and European Theatrical Cultures: An Atomizing Text and Stage,” European Shakespeare Research Association Biennial Convention, July 27-30, 2017
University of Gdansk and the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre, Poland
Co-organizers: Krystyna Kujawinska-Courtney, University of Łódź (Poland); Christy Desmet and Sujata Iyengar, University of Georgia (USA)
In 2017 we commemorate a double anniversary of Ira Aldridge, the well-known nineteenth-century African American Shakespearean actor. Born in 1807, he found it impossible to work professionally in the United States, the land of his birth, because of racial and color prejudice. He took refuge in Europe, eventually dying in Łódź, where he is buried, in 1867. Aldridge crossed not only geographical but also methodological boundaries in his work, deploying what we might now call color-blind or rather color-conscious casting. An early role was Rollo, the hero of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s Pizzaro, who was of Peruvian descent. In addition to Othello and Aaron, the Shakespearean roles for which he was most famous, Aldridge sometimes played caricatured figures, such as Mungo the black servant in Isaac Bickerstaffe’s comedy The Padlock. But he also played white characters, wearing white-face make-up to play R.C. Maturin’s Bertram, the title roles in Richard III and Macbeth, and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, and adding a long white prosthetic hair-piece to play Lear (for which, as Théophile Gautier noted, he carefully and symbolically refused to whiten his hands).
This seminar welcomes papers investigating Aldridge’s life and work but also explorations of the major research questions surrounding race and European theatre that Aldridge’s career foregrounds, such as:
What are the functions of and future of white- and blackface makeup on European stages?
How does the concept of race change with transatlantic or transnational movement?
How are both color-blind and color-conscious casting choices complicated by a change of place?
How do celebrity and star-power inflect an actor’s or character’s perceived race, ethnicity, or national affiliation in different locales and contexts?
Send 200-word abstracts and a 3-5 sentence author biography to all the organizers: Krystyna Kujawinska-Courtney (krystyna.kujawinska52[at]gmail.com); Christy Desmet (cdesmet [at ]uga.edu) and Sujata Iyengar (iyengar [at] uga.edu) by 31 January, 2017. Completed papers will be due no later than 31 May, 2017. Accepted seminar members must join ESRA, the European Shakespeare Research Association, in order to participate in the seminar.