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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: December ::
Re: Othello and Iago
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2849  Friday, 14 December 2001

From:           Geralyn Horton <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Dec 2001 12:57:07 -0500
Subject: 12.2831 Re: Othello and Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2831 Re: Othello and Iago

> John Velz, who was privileged to see Robeson and Ferrer do _Othello_ on
> Broadway right after WW2, writes:

I apologize in advance for joining the discussion without having my
references in order, but before this topic disappears I want to call
attention to "MS-Directing Shakespeare", a recent account of the female
directors of Shakespeare who, like Margaret Webster, were responsible
for memorable, and even historic, productions; but who seem to be
forgotten.  Unfortunately, I've forgotten them, too, along with the name
of the author who re-published their the accomplishments, Elizabeth
Schafer. A quick search on Amazon.com retrieved Schafer's name, but file
in which I took notes on her book disappeared in a recent computer
crash.  I didn't need Schafer to tell me about Margaret Webster,
though.  I never saw the Robeson Othello, but the public library had the
recording, and I listened to it several times in the 1950's, when I was
still a child but had adult library privileges. I read Webster's books,
which were in the library, too.  Her life as a director of Shakespeare
seemed ideal to me, but no more possible for a girl from Ohio in the
1950's than Joan of Arc's (not my ideal, that one)

Schafer points out that the great actors of that generation often chose
women as directors -- or as stage managers, if they were self-directing
-- to assure that their interpretation of the leading role would be the
center of critical attention. This worked so well that reviews often
omitted the directors' names -- at a time when our present practice of
director-centered theatre was becoming the norm, and actors'
interpretations subject to the director's "vision".

Schafer also records that an all women Shakespeare company toured
England for more than 30 years before disbanding in 1963, and that many
of the great dames of the London stage apprenticed with that company.

Geralyn Horton
http://www.stagepage.org

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