Originally entitled "The Moor of Venice," "Othello" was first performed by Shakespeare's theatre group, the King's Men on November 1, 1604, in the Banqueting House of London's Whitehall Palace. Today, over four hundred years later, it remains as popular as ever. Its central themes of racism, love, jealousy and betrayal are as relevant to life now as they were back then. But scholars disagree on the Moor's origins. Some argue that he is black, others that he is Arab. Despite this, traditionally he has been played by white actors in various shades of make-up. Nowadays, black actors have mostly re-appropriated the role, and the white Othello's that are occasionally cast have thankfully abandoned their blackface masks.
Today, re-evaluating the play's dialogue, settings and costume has become part of a creative boundary pushing exercise amongst young directors eager to distinguish their productions from those of the past, and to appeal to contemporary audiences. This was also part of the thinking behind my current eBook, "The Shakespeare Mash-up."
The last four centuries has seen a rich diversity of interpretations of Othello, both classic and modern. Here are eighteen of the most memorable.