‘Shakespeare Uncovered’ explores Petruchios, Othello in blackface

When my husband said he would pass on going with me to see Ralph Fiennes in “Hamlet” on Broadway (1995) because “I’ve already seen ‘Hamlet,’ ” I had to re-evaluate my marriage. Really? You’ve seen one “Hamlet” so you think you’ve seen them all!?

Image of the Chandos portrait, artist and authenticity unconfirmed. National Portrait Gallery, London./Wikipedia
The Chandos portrait of Shakespeare, artist and authenticity unconfirmed. (National Portrait Gallery, London./Wikipedia)

I’ve been going to Shakespeare with other people since. For the record, I’ve seen 33 “Hamlets” and my two Millennial kids have seen two each. (We’re working on seeing the whole canon together). At least one of them will be watching the continuing series “Shakespeare Uncovered” at 9 and 10 tonight with me. (Watch previous episodes at the website as well.)

The NYTimes describes them thusly:

Morgan Freeman, who played Petruchio in “The Taming of the Shrew” in the Public Theater’s 1990 Shakespeare in the Park production, looks at some famous Petruchios (Richard Burton, John Cleese and Raul Julia) and Kates (Elizabeth Taylor, Fiona Shaw, Sinead Cusack and Meryl Streep) and reunites with his own sparring partner, Tracey Ullman.  Julia Stiles reflects on her role in the 1999 teenage comedy adaptation of the work, “10 Things I Hate About You.” (Heath Ledger co-starred). And the Royal Shakespeare Company takes the play to a school near where Shakespeare grew up to find out what children make of the adult shenanigans.

At 10pm, David Harewood, the first black actor to star in the title role of “Othello” at the National Theater in London, looks at the history behind the play; talks to Adrian Lester, the National Theater’s latest Othello, about the reaction to the 1825 performance of Ira Aldridge, the first black man to play the role in Britain; and ponders Laurence Olivier’s use of blackface in his acclaimed film portrayal in 1965.

And speaking of Ralph Fiennes … his brother Joseph will  investigate why “Romeo and Juliet” is the most often produced play next week (10 p.m. Feb. 13). He must know what he’s talking about since, after all, he played the Bard in “Shakespeare in Love.” (Which is coming to the stage. But that’s another blog). To watch a preview, click on the link below.


4 thoughts on “‘Shakespeare Uncovered’ explores Petruchios, Othello in blackface”

  1. 33 Hamlets! Wow – I’m doing a free online course about Hamlet and finding it fascinating. I hope to go to the Globe sometime as I’ve never been. Who was a memorable Hamlet?


    1. Must say Ralph Fiennes was superb in his Broadway debut as the title character. Most unusual, and an interesting approach, was a Public Theatre production with a woman, Diane Venora, as Hamlet.

      (Check out the NYTimes review here: http://www.nytimes.com/1982/12/03/theater/theater-diane-venora-stars-in-papp-s-hamlet.html).
      But the best news is today’s announcement that Benedict Cumberbatch will play the melancholy Dane to be broadcast beginning Oct. 15 as part of the National Theater Live events at local cinemas around the world.

      Check it out here: http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/ntlout10-hamlet?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MK%20NT_LIVE_Hamlet%20INTL%2020.02.2015%20SEND&utm_content=&spMailingID=22169551&spUserID=OTI0NjE0NDkxMzYS1&spJobID=502183576&spReportId=NTAyMTgzNTc2S0


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