The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1819 Friday, 4 November 2005
From: Al Magary <
Date: Thursday, 03 Nov 2005 17:34:41 -0800
Subject: Two Othellos
The Oxford DNB's entertaining bio of the day for 11/4, free at
http://www.oxforddnb.com/public/lotw/, is the notorious but charismatic
tragedian Edmund Kean (1787-1833), by Peter Thomson. A color portrait
shows Kean as Brutus but he was famous as well as Shylock, Richard III,
Othello, and Lear, until ruined by drink, dissipation, and a sensational
adultery scandal and trial, after which the hostility of the audience
often ruined performances (in fact, playing Boston, he was driven off
the stage and there was a riot outside).
If you're quick to the URL you may catch the bio of the Afro-Briton
author Ignatius Sancho (1729?-1780) who once spent his last shilling to
see David Garrick as Richard III but failed on the stage as Othello.
"Although [his artist friend William] Stevenson tells us that he had
'often witnessed [Sancho's] patient forbearance, when the passing vulgar
have given vent to their prejudices against his ebon complexion, his
African features, and his corpulent person', he recounts an incident in
which Sancho demonstrated 'his manly resentment' in the face of such
prejudice. Insulted by a 'fashionable' man in the street with the shout,
'Smoke Othello!' Sancho, 'immediately placing himself across the path,
before him, exclaimed with a thundering voice, and a countenance which
awed the delinquent, "Aye, Sir, such Othellos you meet with but once in
a century," clapping his hand upon his goodly round paunch. "Such Iagos
as you, we meet with in every dirty passage. Proceed, Sir!"' (Nichols,
Lit. anecdotes, 8.682-3)."
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