Page last updated at 14:03 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 15:03 UK

Henry to star as Othello on stage

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Henry talks about treading the boards

Comedian Lenny Henry is to make his stage acting debut in the role of Othello, it has been announced.

The star, who turned 50 this year, will star in a production of Shakespeare's famous tragedy on a national tour.

Henry said he was inspired to tackle the role 17 years ago when he made the film True Identity - in which his character attempted to play Othello.

The production will tour the UK next year. Henry told BBC News it would be a "challenging" experience.

The comedian will unveil his interpretation of the noble Moor who reduced to savagery by the manipulative Iago as part of next year's spring season at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Performances will also be held in Scarborough, Coventry, Bath, Kingston, Newcastle under Lyme and Halifax.

Henry, who hit the limelight after winning talent show New Faces in 1975, revealed he had been put off Shakespeare at school.

"I'm slightly allergic to Shakespeare," he said.

Shakespeare is for all of us. These are primal stories about death, revenge, love passion and politics
Lenny Henry

"Our English teacher threw some books at us one day in class in Dudley and said 'will you read this?'

"It sorted of killed it for us because we didn't know it was a play, we didn't know you were supposed to stand up and act it out.

"It just felt like some lump, ancient language that we didn't really understand."

But the star said he had since studied several of the great writer's plays.

"I've come to the conclusion that it's for everybody. Shakespeare is for all of us.

"These are primal stories about death, revenge, love, passion and politics," he said.




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