Today In History:
In 1604, William Shakespeare’s Othello is performed for the first time at the Whitehall Palace in London (sidenote: his The Tempest would debut on Nov. 1, 1611, which makes me wonder if there’s some sort of old cultural thing about performing plays on All Saints Day; maybe that was a big theater-going day back in olden times).
A report from the Master of the Revels — which was a position in the British Royal Household, unlike the Marker of the Swans, which still is — described it thus:
On Hallamas Day, being the first of Nouembar… the Kings Maiesties plaiers [performed] A Play in the Banketinge house at Whit Hall Called The Moor of Venis.
The play was attributed to “Shaxbeard” in that account, which is either testimony to the composite Shakespeare theory or a testament to the fact that no one could spell in 1604.
Othello is the story of Othello, of course, a great military leader brought low by his jealousies, carefully stoked by his friend and later talking parrot, Iago. It all goes very badly and then he becomes a board game.
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