The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.323 Friday, 30 September 2016
Date: September 30, 2016 at 11:52:32 AM EDT
Subject: CFP: "Shakespeare and European Theatrical Cultures”
Seminar accepted for "Shakespeare and European Theatrical Cultures: An Atomizing Text and Stage," European Shakespeare Research Association Biennial Convention University of Gdansk and the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre, Poland, July 27-30, 2016.
Co-organizers: Christy Desmet and Sujata Iyengar, University of Georgia (USA)
Ira Aldridge, the well-known nineteenth-century African American Shakespearean actor, 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. 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. His first role was Rollo, the hero of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s Pizzaro, who was of Peruvian descent. In addition to Othello, the Shakespearean role for which he was most famous, Aldridge played in Titus Andronicus, and (perhaps) Romeo and Juliet. He sometimes played caricatured figures, such as Mungo the black servant in the afterpiece The Padlock. But he also played white characters, wearing white-face make-up to play 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 brief account of Aldridge’s life and work foregrounds some of the major research questions surrounding the study of race in European theatre: 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 both 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.
Sujata Iyengar, Professor of English
Co-general editor of Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation
Department of English
University of Georgia