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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: November ::
Two Othellos
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1819  Friday, 4 November 2005

From: 		Al Magary <
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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)."

Cheers,
Al Magary

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