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Othello and apartheid: Track 1

Can a play written in the seventeenth century protest against contemporary issues? Is it possible to use a Shakespearian tragedy draw attention to political injustice? Apartheid was a system of enforced legal racial segregation in South Africa that was imposed on the country's majority non white inhabitants by the minority white population. In 1988 actress and director Janet Suzman took the decision to defy the racist apartheid regime by staging Othello in Johannesburg with a mixed cast of both white and black actors. In these three films we explore the way in which one of Shakespeare’s plays was used to make provocative statements on the political situation in South Africa the late eighties. This material forms part of The Open University course A230 Reading and studying literature.

By: The iTunes U team (Programme and web teams)

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Track 1: The play as a metaphor

Janet Suzman explains how she used a 400 year old play to bring attention to contemporary issues.


© The Open University 2011


Tracks in this podcast:

Track   Title Description
1 The play as a metaphor    Janet Suzman explains how she used a 400 year old play to bring attention to contemporary issues. Play now The play as a metaphor
2 Othello    The character of Othello represents the ‘other’, the foundation of racial prejudices. Play now Othello
3 Breaking Racial Taboos    Janet Suzman decided to go ahead with the controversial physical aspect of Othello and Desdemona’s interracial relationship. Play now Breaking Racial Taboos