Othello in the Balkans: Performing Race Rhetoric on the Albanian Stage

Authors

  • Marinela Golemi Arizona State University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-8530.22.08

Keywords:

Othello, Albania, race, ethnicity, rhetoric, blackface, performance

Abstract

This essay examines the racialized rhetoric in Fan Noli’s 1916 Othello translation and the racialized performance techniques employed in A.J. Ricko’s 1953 National Theatre of Albania production. Hoping to combat racial discrimination in Albania, Noli’s translation of Othello renders the Moor an exceptional Turk whose alienation in Venice was designed to mirror the Albanophobic experiences of Albanian immigrants. Moreover, the Albanian Othello can serve as a platform for addressing ethno-racial tensions between Albanians and Turks, northern and southern Albanians, and Albanians of color and white Albanians. Both Noli and Ricko believed there was an anti-racist power inherent within Shakespeare’s play. In the end, however, the race-based rhetoric in the Albanian language, the use of blackface make-up in performance, and the logic and rhetoric of Shakespeare’s play itself challenged these lofty goals for race-healing.

Author Biography

Marinela Golemi, Arizona State University

Marinela Golemi is a PhD Candidate in English Literature and a part-time faculty member at Arizona State University. Her essay is part of an on-going study about Shakespearean adaptations in post-communist Albania. She has presented her research at RSA, BSA, NeMLA, PaMLA, and RMMLA. She also has a forthcoming publication on Shakespeare and non-finito aesthetics in the journal Philosophy and Literature.

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Published

2020-12-30

How to Cite

Golemi, M. (2020). Othello in the Balkans: Performing Race Rhetoric on the Albanian Stage. Multicultural Shakespeare: Translation, Appropriation and Performance, 22(37), 125-138. https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-8530.22.08