Shakespeare Uncovered: Othello with David Harewood

L-R: David Harewood and Adrian Lester at Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London. Photo credit: Andrea Southam

L-R: David Harewood and Adrian Lester at Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London. Photo credit: Andrea Southam

In the fourth installment of Shakespeare Uncovered, airing at 10:00 pm on Friday February 6th, David Harewood asks a very difficult question. Could you kill a person you love? Shakespeare made his audience confront that question when he created the character of Othello 400 years ago. It holds a key to understanding how such a strong warrior could end up so vulnerable that he would actually consider killing his wife. Harewood says, “Whether you love him or hate him, we have to understand Othello. If you don’t understand Othello, I don’t think you understand yourself.”

Harewood was the first black actor to play the Moor at the National Theatre in London, which only took place in 1997. In preparing for the role, he wanted to pinpoint and show how an honorable and noble man could slowly change to a beastly, angry, jealous killer.

He talks to University of London Professor Jerry Brown about what the Elizabethans would have thought of the Moor, and later, to Adrian Lester about how racial prejudices meant that for centuries a black actor couldn’t even play the role. More

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