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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: July ::
Re: Patrick Stewart as Othello
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0755.  Tuesday, 15 July 1997.

[1]     From:   Amy S. Green <
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        Date:   Monday, 14 Jul 97 15:32:33 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0754  Qs: Stewart as Othello

[2]     From:   Milla Riggio <
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        Date:   Monday, 14 Jul 1997 16:57:19 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0754 Q: Stewart as Othello

[3]     From:   JoAnna Koskinen <
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        Date:   Monday, 14 Jul 1997 16:39:16 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0754  Qs: Stewart as Othello

[4]     From:   H. R. Greenberg <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Jul 1997 00:58:40 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0754 Q: Stewart as Othello


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Amy S. Green <
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Date:           Monday, 14 Jul 97 15:32:33 EDT
Subject: 8.0754  Qs: Stewart as Othello
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0754  Qs: Stewart as Othello

Re Patrick Stewart as Othello:  I agree that it's an interesting choice,
and I imagine it's major motive is indeed to find a way to let this fine
actor have a crack at the role without offending the rest of Western
Civilization.  Whether or not it works as more than a gimmick is to be
seen.  The best conceptualizations rely almost entirely on the care,
quality, and creativity of the execution rather than the original bright
idea.  Will audiences be confused by the many references to Othello's
"blackness" or will the convention supersede the literal are questions
that are impossible to answer in advance.  That's why it's so important
for such experiments to find their way to production.  I'll be watching
. . .

Meanwhile, The Acting Company toured an Othello a couple of years ago
with a black Iago and Emilia, which was extremely successful.
Black-on-black racism became a very contemporary and potent sub-theme.
I saw the production with my students at a Brooklyn Community College,
and they were wholly taken with the choice.  Black self-hatred, the
idiocy of skin-tone as defining characteristic, etc., became topics for
discussion and written responses.  I'm pretty sure the rest of the cast
was white, although I may be forgetting a more generally mixed group.
Either way, the acting was superb and the production values quite
beautiful.  I recall jewel-toned costumes in Venice and a Cyprus of
nearly blinding whites and blues.

Best from sweltering NYC,
Amy S. Green

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Milla Riggio <
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Date:           Monday, 14 Jul 1997 16:57:19 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0754 Q: Stewart as Othello
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0754 Q: Stewart as Othello

One note about Patrick Stewart as Othello; it's probably true that it
would be difficult for Stewart to play this role now, but the
implication that Othello has historically been played primarily by
African-descended actors is, of course, not true:  Olivier, Orson
Welles, Anthony Hopkins....[you fill in the rest].

Just for historical clarity.

Milla Riggio

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           JoAnna Koskinen <
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Date:           Monday, 14 Jul 1997 16:39:16 -0700
Subject: 8.0754  Qs: Stewart as Othello
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0754  Qs: Stewart as Othello

I must say that I find the whole idea of the "Othello" reversal quite
interesting, and am looking forward to both hearing the reaction as well
as seeing it for myself. I TA'd with someone whose Masters project was
to do exactly what you're referring to, and needless to say, he was very
disappointed to find out that he didn't think of it first.

Has anyone read author Dympna Callaghan's "Othello was a white man:
Properties of race on Shakespeare's stage," in Terence Hawks,
"Alternative Shakespeares vol 2?" What did you think?

JoAnna

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           H. R. Greenberg <
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Date:           Tuesday, 15 Jul 1997 00:58:40 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0754 Q: Stewart as Othello
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0754 Q: Stewart as Othello

As I recall, Stewart has done an excellent Iago, see no reason why he
couldn't be at least a serviceable Othello. Why all the fuss about a
white actor playing the part, or am I missing some politically correct
point here?  Olivier played the Moor in blackface, and was, as I recall,
more than a bit over the top. Think Stewart should be fine, although not
great.

hr greenberg md
 

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