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Unpacking the Shakespeare in American Moor

Keith Hamilton Cobb’s stunning, tour-de-force solo performance of American Moor (APR 10-21) is filled with references from Shakespeare’s greatest works, with characters and events from the Bard’s vast folio.  We’ve put together a reference guide to check out before seeing American Moor so you don’t miss out on the riveting performance in front of you and also increase your Shakespeare trivia knowledge.


Othello is one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, written in 1603. The story revolves around Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army and his unfaithful junior officer, lago. A story that delves into themes of racism, jealousy, love and revenge it is still widely produced worldwide to this day, and boasts several successful adaptations, from operas to movies.

Othello (character)

The title character in Othello and is a Venetian soldier of Moorish descent. He elopes with Desdemona, the daughter of a prominent Venetian senator. He is deployed to Cyprus where he is manipulated by lago into believing that Desdemona was unfaithful. Led on by Iago’s lies, Othello  kills his wife and then kills himself after Iago’s deceit is revealed.


A Venetian beauty in Othello who upsets her father Brabantio when she elopes with Othello. She is murdered by Othello because of Iago’s fabricated story of her infidelity to Othello. .


A Venetian senator in Othello and the father of Desdemona. He becomes furious after learning that Desdemona and Othello have eloped and it is the reported cause of his death.


Titania is a character in Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She is the Queen of the Fairies. She is a proud figure and often in contention with her husband Oberon. Due to a spell cast on her, Titania ends up falling in love with Nick Bottom who has the head of a Donkey.  

Titania’s “Forgeries of Jealousy” Monologue

This monologue is the result of Titania inhabiting a wood outside of Athens, where she and her husband, King Oberon, are arguing over the future of a changeling boy. Titania wants to treat him as their son, but  Oberon wants the boy to be his henchman.

Henry Percy (Hotsbur)

In Henry IV, Part 1 Hotsbur is a character inspired by the real Sir Henry Percy who lead successful rebellions against Henry IV of England. He was killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury.


A title character from Shakespeare’s tragedy Troilus and Cressida, he is a Trojan Prince who woos another Trojan, Cressida. When Cressida is exchanged as a Trojan prisoner of War, Troilus attempts to visit her when he sees Diomedes flirting with her. He then seeks revenge on Diomedes. The play ends with the destruction of their love.


The protagonist from one of Shakespeare’s most well known tragedies Romeo and Juliet, Romeo is a member of the house of Montague who falls in love with Juliet Capulet, the daughter from a rival family, beginning their forbidden and doomed romance.


The title role and protagonist of The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Prince Hamlet is the son of King Hamlet and nephew of the usurping Claudius. Throughout the play he strives to avenge the murder of his father.

Aaron the Moor

Aaron the Moor is Tamora’s secret lover in Titus Andronicus. He is behind the plan to destroy the entire Andronicus family.

The Prince of Morocco

The Prince of Morocco is a Moorish prince in the play Merchant of Venice. He seeks Portia’s hand in marriage, asking her to ignore the color of his skin. He is proud of and convinced of his worth, despite failing to woo Portia and win her love

The Big “O”

A reference to the character Othello.

King Richard II

King Richard II is a history play written by Shakespeare in 1595. The play is based on the life of King Richard II of England who ruled from 1377-1399. The play spans two years of Richard’s life from 1398-1400.

ArtsEmerson is thrilled to welcome Keith Hamilton Cobb and American Moor to Boston from April 10-21 at the Emerson Paramount Center.

1 Comment

  1. Sophia KryderMarch 22, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks so much for this list. There is also a wonderful, and pivotal, line from “King Lear” (I,ii) in this play: “What shall Cordelia do? Love and be silent…”. Cordelia’s sisters have just heaped false praise upon their father (King Lear) and she knows that she would purger her soul and disrespect her father if she joins them. She also knows that she will likely be deeply misunderstood or unheard if she expresses her truth (and she is right – this sets off the sequence of events which will end in her death, among other tragedies). The Actor in this play knows what is coming in a way that Cordelia didn’t (since he knows “Lear”) and his claiming of this line marks a decision point to speak his truth. As a side note I believe there is some doubt as to the text here and the line is sometimes:”What shall Cordelia speak?…” but Mr. Hamilton Cobb has chosen to use the more active word. Thank you for this wonderful blog!


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