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The History of the Performance of Othello

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Farukh Munshi

on 3 October 2012

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Transcript of The History of the Performance of Othello

This was the first performance of Othello and was said to be the most successful. The play was so popular at the time that it was performed for Princess Elizabeth on her wedding around 1612-1614. The 17th Century: 1604 Richard Burbage
Sources show that he is the first actor to perform as Othello. He is reported to be the first Iago. Walter Clun The 19th Century: 1816 William Charles Macready was given the role of Othello in this version and his performance evoked much anger and disappointment from many critics at the time. This was because he wanted to excel in the role and hence he was unable to capture the individual bursts of feeling, nor the passion or the poetic speech. However, William Hazlitt criticised his Macready's performance as it did not take the audience beyond human emotions. Laurence Olivier played the role of Othello in this movie and hence it is often referred to as his version. For him to be suited for the role, he was painted black, and changed his accent to sound like a foreigner. Also, he changed his walk and posture to suit the role of Othello. The 20th Century: 1965 The 20th Century: 1952 The 21st century: The Hackney Empire Lenny Henry played Othello in this version of the play and also received much criticism for his performance.

"Some of his effects are perfunctory, his epileptic fit is a flaccid gurgle".

However, Henry's "tragic" performance was far from the concerns of the play. There was a constant reference to the racist symbol, "golliwog", to taunt Othello.
Although the logo was an innocent symbol of childhood for some, the characters used this as a prop to taunt him and his status as the moor. Orson Welles is "black faced" in this dramatic performance he gives to the audience and is said to be "staturesque and controlled" in his role as Othello, the tragic hero. The 21st Century: Donmar Warehouse 'Chiwetel Ejiofor achieves something extraordinary and historic in Michael Grandage's misty, crepuscular vision of Othello and devilish, sexual mischief in Cyprus.' [Ewan McGregor] 'He’s vigorous, hard, mean and he does hate, really hate. Hate enough to give us Shakespeare’s play as it poignantly, painfully should be.' The 21st Century: "O" This is a modern interpretation of the play but what is more intriguing about this is that Tim Blake Nelson, the director, uses Shakespeare's themes of race, sex and marriage to highlight issues that are still globally prominent. The History of the Performance of "Othello"
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