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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 15 April 2021



Othello and Blackface2

(p.97) 5 Original(ity)
Passing Strange

Ayanna Thompson

Oxford University Press

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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