It’s been 60 years since Duke Ellington recorded Such Sweet Thunder, a jazz suite based on Shakespeare’s plays. Eleven songs are linked to Shakespearean characters like Othello and Lady Macbeth, and the final number is a tribute to Shakespeare himself.
Posts Tagged: Duke Ellington
Paul Robeson was the first modern African American to perform Shakespeare—to perform Othello, and he talks in his letters and in his essays about bringing his experiences as a student in a white arena, his experiences with racism, to the performance. So for him as an actor, he brought his experience as an African American in a racist society to this performance of Othello, a black man in a racist society. Other actors who saw him said it was like seeing Othello for the first time.
To commemorate Black History Month in February, we’re sharing a playlist of Shakespeare Unlimited episodes about the African American experience, important global figures, and the history of Shakespeare performance in Africa and the Caribbean. The podcast is available on iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Play, Spotify, and NPR One. Shakespeare in Black and White This podcast episode revisits… Continue Reading »