Letter: Black actor could play Othello

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The Independent Online
Sir: David Lister is, perhaps, unaware of the theory that "Othello the Moor" was one of Shakespeare's howlers. According to this theory the play Othello was modelled on the life of a Venetian merchant called Otello Moro, who was white and about whom records exist.

Shakespeare, so the theory goes, did not speak Italian and assumed that the name "Moro" meant that Otello was a Moor. If this had been the case, he might perhaps have been called "Otello il Moro". It is the difference between "John Black" and John the Black".

If this theory is correct, then the answer to Mr Lister's question is "yes, it is wrong to black up for Othello" and it is even more wrong, from the historical point of view, to get a black man to play the part.


Rotherfield, East Sussex