Paul Robeson's Othello, first seen in London during the season of 1929–30, stands as a high-water mark of twentieth-century Shakespearean interpretation. Robeson was the first actor of African descent to appear in an extended-run Shakespearean production at a leading West End venue (Ira Aldridge, whose last London appearance came sixty-five years earlier, had made only three brief appearances at major London theatres). Here, Michael A. Morrison examines the circumstances surrounding Robeson's London Othello in 1930 and the far-reaching influence of his achievement on future generations of performers and playgoers. Michael A. Morrison is a New York-based writer and teacher. He is the author of John Barrymore, Shakespearean Actor (Cambridge University Press, 1997) and the forthcoming Paul Robeson's Othello.
(Online publication May 11 2011)