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Robeson first played Othello in 1930 at the Savoy Theatre in London. In the programme he included a picture of Ira Aldridge; a great nineteenth century Black Shakespearean actor, who like Robeson, had left the oppressive climate of the US for greater liberty to develop his talents. Aldridge's daughter gave Robeson the earrings worn by her father in Othello in 1865.
Robeson went on to play the character Othello in three major productions in London (1930), New York (1943) and Stratford-upon-Avon (1959).
In the first half of the twentieth century seeing a Black man play opposite a white actress remained a powerful, and often explosive, sight. Newspapers in the southern states of the US warned against the play being brought to their theatres with Robeson in the leading role.
Critics praised Robeson's strong presence on stage portraying Othello as coming from an African culture as great as that of Venice, not a savage one. Despite the praise Robeson still found himself refused entry into some hotels and restaurants in both the US and Britain.
Watch a short clip of film with Robeson talking about playing Othello in 1943.

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