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Professor Jonathan Pope
English 340: 12
June 19, 2011
A Stage History of Shakespeare's Othello
Amongst one of Shakespeare's great tragedy works, Othello, the Moore of Venice, was first recorded as having been performed in 1604. It was likely not written long before that, even still the text of the play was not published until eighteen years later in 1622. While nearly 400 years have passed since the first production of Othello, there have not been many drastic changes in the way of staging. Directors, actors, and critics over the years have seemed to agree that the focus of the stage play lies with the actors, mainly those who play Othello and Iago, and not in the scenery or in the technical aspects. Reviews and written records of the play from the 1600s to the early 1900s seem to focus almost exclusively on the actors who played Iago and Othello, and what they brought to the play.
Even though there have not been drastic changes in the way of staging, directors of the play still have choices to make. They do this by often cutting certain lines or scenes, or by creating the focus of the play to be on race or jealousy. Over the years there have been many outstanding performances of Othello, each of which have left their mark on the stage history of the play by bringing something original and innovative to Shakespeare's timeless tragedy.
There are several recorded productions of Othello between 1604 and 1648, when the theaters were closed by act of Parliament for twelve years. These performances occurred at many places, often at the Globe Theater, or elsewhere before royalty. The first recorded production of Othello was in 1604, at the Banqueting House in Whitehall...