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Passing StrangeShakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America$
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Ayanna Thompson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195385854

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780195385854.001.0001

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Original(ity)

Original(ity)

Othello and Blackface2

Chapter:
(p.97) 5 Original(ity)
Source:
Passing Strange
Author(s):

Ayanna Thompson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780195385854.003.0005

This chapter focuses on theater companies' experimentation with original practices in William Shakespeare's plays and how they distinguish between the notions of authenticity and originality. More specifically, it explores the relationship between an original practice (a white actor playing Othello) and the authorial intent (Shakespeare's design for a white actor as Othello), along with the relationship between the assumed authorial intent and a modern production. It also considers the relationship between practice and reception when modern blackfaced versions of Othello are produced. Finally, the chapter examines the justifications offered by scholars and practitioners for the employment of blackface in Shakespearean theater, as well as the impact of such justifications upon their implicit understandings of the semiotic significance of race and color in performance.

Keywords:   original practices, William Shakespeare, plays, authenticity, originality, Othello, authorial intent, blackface, theater, race

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