Ken Nwosu as Othello and Ralph Davies as Iago
Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London
Photo by Johan Persson
076 – Othello, by William Shakespeare
Published 13th February
This episode explores Shakespeare’s devastating exploration of race, reputation and jealousy, The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. When it was first performed during Shakespeare’s lifetime the play was a popular success, but in the centuries since it has provoked a wide range of responses as successive generations have grappled with the racial identity of the eponymous character. As we record this episode a new production of Othello at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London views the play’s treatment of race through a contemporary lens, setting the play within the London Metropolitan police force, a topical environment for racial inspection.
I am privileged to welcome as my guest someone especially qualified to help us navigate the tricky waters of Shakespeare’s play, Professor Farah Karim-Cooper, who is not only the Director of Education at Shakespeare’s Globe, and Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Kings College London, but she is also the author of a fascinating new book entitled The Great White Bard – Shakespeare, Race and the Future. It is a wonderful fresh take on Shakespeare that prompts us to acknowledge the white bias that has historically informed our interpretation and judgement of his work.
Farah Karim-Cooper is Professor of Shakespeare Studies, King’s College London and Director of Education & Research at Shakespeare’s Globe.
She has published over 40 chapters in books, reviews and articles and is a General Editor for Arden’s Shakespeare in the Theatre series and their Critical Intersections Series. Her pubished books include: Cosmetics in Shakespearean and Renaissance Drama (Edinburgh University Press, 2006, revised ed. 2019), The Hand on the Shakespearean Stage: Gesture, Touch and the Spectacle of Dismemberment (Arden 2016), and most recently The Great White Bard – Shakespeare, Race and the Future (One World, 2023).
In 2018 Farah curated the Globe’s first Shakespeare and Race Festival. She is an executive board member for RaceB4Race, a consortium of scholars and institutions that seek racial justice in the field of pre-modern literary studies.
Farah recommended Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti.
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