Othello: Laurence Fishburne

This scene (5.2) illustrates the favorable effect on cinematic close-ups of using an actor of African descent. However, the casting of Othello continues to raise issues about staging Othello as African. The script calls him a Moor, and Shakespeare’s Londoners knew first-hand what an authentic Moorish dignitary looked like (see Gallery 10.g.4). There is now some debate over even broader issues of cross-casting: we have had a female Caesar, Lear, Falstaff and Prospero (even a Caliban), an African Henry VI, and a male African Rosalind in As You Like It, but political correctness seemingly still requires only authentically African Othellos and Jewish Shylocks.

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