Last weekend I went up to Stratford to see the work two of my collaborators had been doing over the past few months. Steve Edis had composed the music for Trevor Nunn's wonderful and hilarious new production of Volpone and Brian Protheroe was playing Brabantio in the ground breaking Othello with Lucian Msamati's black Iago, also Brian gave us a stupendous Aragon in The Merchant of Venice.
I was lucky enough to go to a debate at the theatre about whether Othello is a racist play. The much adored Hugh Quarshie, who plays Othello was on the panel, along with Lucian Msamati, academic Onyeka Nubia and Celia R. Caputi.
Onyeka let us into some of his store of secrets, uncovered after 23 years of research into the black inhabitants of Britain during Tudor times. To order your own signed copy of his book go to the website here: Blackamoores
One of the most interesting things that came out of the discussion was that during Tudor times black people were not thought of as a race, the Tudors thought that dark coloured skin was only because of the sun. Shakespeare would not have thought of Othello in the way we do now because for him there had been no slavery, no Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King. It was such a curious thought and now I wish I could see the play again just to see how I felt about it knowing that.