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date: 26 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Whilst the cultural materialist scholarship of the 1980s asserted that Shakespeare can never be our contemporary, actors, directors, and voice practitioners have insisted with equal assurance and political passion that Shakespeare always has something to say to the contemporary moment. This chapter uses three recent productions of Othello as case studies to consider the artistic and ideological work that rendering Shakespeare ‘our contemporary’ allows his plays to do in order to current and historical constructions of social class and race. Even as the chapter continues the cultural materialist project of naming the theatrical and cultural strategies of appropriation used by Shakespeare production, it also seeks to explore the theatrical and cultural work Shakespeare does to the contemporary. It suggests that performing Shakespeare is always a dialogue between the discourses, theatrical conventions, and political concerns of past and present.

Keywords: Key terms, Othello, Shakespeare our contemporary, appropriation, cultural materialism, ideological work, social class, race, theatrical conventions

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