Black Masculinity and the Black Voice: Casting and Canonicity in the National Theatre Gala

  • Sophie DuncanEmail author


This chapter analyses constructions and deployments of black masculinity in National Theatre Live: 50 Years on Stage (2013). Showcasing the National Theatre’s (NT) half-century of history through live and archival performance, the gala’s canon-building was necessarily but revealingly selective. I argue that the NT’s deployment of black actors reveals profound anxieties about the ability to accommodate black masculinity, especially of African descent, within the British theatrical canon. I will examine two cases in particular: Adrian Lester’s Othello (2013)—and the actor’s lip-synching to audio of Laurence Olivier’s Othello (1964–1966)—and the appearance in archival footage of Kwame Kwei-Armah’s Elmina’s Kitchen (2003). Contrasting these two examples, I will investigate the continuities and dissonances between the gala’s depictions of African masculinity at a self-consciously canon-fixing moment in British theatrical history.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OxfordOxfordUK

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