Two acclaimed actors will reportedly be starring in an off-Broadway production of Shakespeare's “Othello.”
“SPECTRE” actor Daniel Craig will reportedly play the poisonous Iago in the New York Theatre Workshop Production and David Oyelowo of “Selma” will portray the title character. The production will be directed by “Fun Home” helmer Sam Gold, who recently picked up a best director for a musical Tony Award for his work on that show. This production of “Othello” will debut in fall 2016.
Oyelowo has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and appeared in the off-Broadway production “Prometheus Bound.” He won acclaim for his role as Martin Luther King Jr. in the 2014 film “Selma.”
Craig has appeared on Broadway in the plays “A Steady Rain” and “Betrayal.”
Meanwhile, the New York Theatre Workshop’s other productions this season include the show “Lazarus” by David Bowie and Enda Walsh.
A black actor like Oyelowo taking on the role of Othello is nothing new for the stage – actors James Earl Jones and Paul Robeson, among others, have taken on the role for Broadway productions stretching back decades. But those behind the recent Metropolitan Opera production of “Otello,” which opened last month, made the decision for the first time not to have a white actor portraying the title character use dark makeup.
As recently as the 1980s, actors were using dark makeup to portray Othello on film, with actor Anthony Hopkins doing so for a filmed BBC production in 1981 and Laurence Olivier doing so for the 1965 film, among others. However, African-American actor Laurence Fishburne took on the role for the 1995 movie and African-American actor Mekhi Phifer played the part in the 2001 high-school-set adaptation “O.”
However, the donning of dark makeup by an actor performing in the American Ballet Theater’s production of “Othello” this spring attracted the ire of “Person of Interest” actor Robert Manning, Jr. “The ignorance of it is unbelievable,” Manning told the Huffington Post.