The Moor’s Political Colour: Race and Othello in Poland

Authors

  • Anna Kowalcze-Pawlik University of Lodz, Poland

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-8530.22.10

Keywords:

Othello in Poland, blackface in theatre, brownface in theatre, race in translation

Abstract

This paper provides a brief outline of the reception history of Othello in Poland, focusing on the way the character of the Moor of Venice is constructed on the page, in the first-published nineteenth-century translation by Józef Paszkowski, and on the stage, in two twentieth-century theatrical adaptations that provide contrasting images of Othello: 1981/1984 televised Othello, dir. Andrzej Chrzanowski and the 2011 production of African Tales Based on Shakespeare, in which Othello’s part is played by Adam Ferency (dir. Krzysztof Warlikowski). The paper details the political and social contexts of each of these stage adaptations, as both of them employ brownface and blackface to visualise Othello’s “political colour.” The function of blackface and brownface is radically different in these two productions: in the 1981/1984 Othello brownface works to underline Othello’s overall sense of alienation, while strengthening the existing stereotypes surrounding black as a skin colour, while the 2011 staging makes the use of blackface as an artificial trick of the actor’s trade, potentially unmasking the constructedness of racial prejudices, while confronting the audience with their own pernicious racial stereotypes.

Author Biography

Anna Kowalcze-Pawlik, University of Lodz, Poland

Anna Kowalcze-Pawlik, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the Department of the British and Commonwealth Studies at the Faculty of International and Political Studies, University of Lodz, where she teaches literature and cultural studies, serves as the academic secretary of International Studies: Interdisciplinary Political and Cultural Journal and works at the International Shakespeare Centre. Her main fields of research are reception of Shakespeare in Poland, history of translation and cultural history of emotions. Dr Kowalcze-Pawlik is a board member of the Polish Shakespeare Society, where she has been serving as the vice president since 2018. She is also an active member of BSA, SAA, ESRA, ISA, as well as RSA. Her most recent publications discuss sound and Shakespeare performance, Polish reception of Ophelia as well the figure of witness in Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam.

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Published

2020-12-30

How to Cite

Kowalcze-Pawlik, A. (2020). The Moor’s Political Colour: Race and Othello in Poland. Multicultural Shakespeare: Translation, Appropriation and Performance, 22(37), 171-190. https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-8530.22.10