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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 February, 2004, 15:54 GMT
RSC creates history for Othello
Sello Maake ka Ncube
Ncube is also in the West End production of The Lion King
For the first time in the UK two South African actors, one black and one white, will take to the stage in a new production of Shakespeare's Othello.

Sello Maake ka Ncube (Othello) and Sir Anthony Sher (Iago) will appear in the Royal Shakespeare Company, part of director Michael Boyd's first season.

"There's an expectation, I'm scared but I'm excited by it," said Ncube.

Sir Anthony grew up in South Africa and has performed opposite Ncube before in Titus Andronicus in Johannesburg.

Ncube told BBC Radio 4's Today programme his dream was to play Othello in his native country.

"I would love to do that and I wonder what people's reactions would be when they look at it compared to when they were looking at it during apartheid," he said.

Sir Anthony believes Othello, about a plot to destroy the love between a black man and a white woman, is still an important play.


"I think Othello is as relevant now in a multi-racial society as it was then in a segregated one."

He said his experience of growing up as a white child in South Africa had influenced his performance.

"At the same time as you were learning that two plus two makes four, you were learning that black people were an inferior form of life - that allows me to play the racism in a very profound way that is just second nature to the character," he said.

He feels there is still more to do with the play elsewhere.

"You could set it now in the new South Africa where a black man has this position of power and is resented for it by white people who still believe in the old system.

"When I go back to South Africa now I'm shocked at how little has changed on some levels."

Michael Boyd said he wanted to increase opportunities for experiment when he became artistic director of the RSC last year.

"The aim is to put that spirit of experimentation and enquiry back at the heart of the RSC," he said.

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