Shakespeare in Sable: A History of Black Shakespearean Actors

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Granted the Emeritus John D. Willard Professor of Drama and Oratory at Dartmouth, Hill spent 35 years at the College beginning in when he was appointed to the faculty of the Drama Department. He officially retired in During his tenure, Hill taught a portfolio of 13 different courses on acting, directing, playwriting and theater history, and he directed 33 full-length productions.

THE SABLE SERIES: The History of Black Shakespearean Actors

In addition to teaching and serving as Chairman of the Drama Department for many years, Hill led the Dartmouth College Summer Repertory Program for six memorable seasons. Over the course of his life, Hill produced and directed over plays and pageants in the West Indies, England, the United States and Nigeria with amateur, semi-professional and professional companies.

In the world of academia and scholarship, Hill was prolific right up until his death. He wrote 11 plays, authored or edited 15 major books and periodicals many of which won professional association and national awards , and wrote 25 major articles on drama and theater history. Hill's study of the African American and Caribbean theater earned him worldwide acclaim and a reputation as the foremost historical scholar in these fields.


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Hill served as visiting professor at universities in England, Canada, and the United States. In , he received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of the West Indies in recognition of his scholarship related to Caribbean plays and playwrights. In , Hill was awarded the Presidential Medal from Dartmouth for outstanding leadership and achievement.

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Over the course of his life, he performed over 30 major roles in the U. Prior to joining Dartmouth, Hill held teaching appointments at the University of the West Indies, the University of Ibadan, Nigeria for two years as a Rockefeller Foundation teaching fellow and spent an academic year teaching at City University of New York. Hill has been credited with sparking the modern era in theatre in the Caribbean.

As early as the mids Hill founded a West Indian acting company the Whitehall Players, , with the international dramatic actor Errol John. He utilized the vernacular, a radical and controversial departure for the time, and incorporated aspects of Trinidadian and Caribbean culture.

Errol Hill, 82; Playwright Was an Expert on Black Dramatists - Los Angeles Times

Dance Bongo , written in free verse, included the ritual dance for the dead. His most famous play, Man Better Man , which represented Trinidad and Tobago at the Commonwealth Festival in Britain, used rhymed calypso verse with traditional chants and original music. He lectured, conducted workshops, adjudicated at festivals and mounted performances for visiting dignitaries.

Asked about his careers as actor, teacher, historian, director, and playwright, Hill said recently, "At different stages of my life certain things were more important to me.

I enjoyed directing a lot because I could choose plays that I wanted to do, from every conceivable period of theater, and I had the freedom to do them with the best available students, talented students. That was wonderful. Later, the introduction of All Souls Day on November 2 by Christian missionaries perpetuated the idea of a mingling between the living and the dead around the same time of year. With all these ghosts wandering around the Earth during Samhain, the Celts had to get creative to avoid being terrorized by evil spirits.

To fake out the ghosts, people would don disguises so they would be mistaken for spirits themselves and left alone. There is a lot of debate around the origins of trick-or-treating. One theory proposes that during Samhain, Celtic people would leave out food to placate the souls and ghosts and spirits traveling the Earth that night.

Eventually, people began dressing up as these otherworldly beings in exchange for similar offerings of food and drink. Other researchers speculate that the candy bonanza stems from the Scottish practice of guising , itself a secular version of souling. Some sources argue that our modern trick-or-treating stems from belsnickling , a tradition in German-American communities where children would dress in costume and then call on their neighbors to see if the adults could guess the identities of the disguised guests. In one version of the practice, the children were rewarded with food or other treats if no one could identify them.

The association of black cats and spookiness actually dates all the way back to the Middle Ages, when these dark kitties were considered a symbol of the Devil. This game traces its origins to a courting ritual that was part of a Roman festival honoring Pomona, the goddess of agriculture and abundance. Multiple variations existed, but the gist was that young men and women would be able to foretell their future relationships based on the game.

When the Romans conquered the British Isles, the Pomona festival was blended with the similarly timed Samhain, a precursor to Halloween. The classic Halloween colors can also trace their origins back to the Celtic festival Samhain. Some sources say that pranks were originally part of May Day celebrations. But Samhain, and eventually All Souls Day, seem to have included good-natured mischief. When Scottish and Irish immigrants came to America, they brought along the tradition of celebrating Mischief Night as part of Halloween, which was great for candy-fueled pranksters.

These days, candles are more likely than towering traditional bonfires , but for much of the early history of Halloween, open flames were integral in lighting the way for souls seeking the afterlife. People have been coating fruit in sugar syrups as a means of preservation for centuries. Since the development of the Roman festival of Pomona, the goddess often represented by and associated with apples, the fruit has had a place in harvest celebrations.

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As part of Samhain, the Celts lit large bonfires, which attracted insects. The insects, in turn, attracted bats, which soon became associated with the festival. Medieval folklore expanded upon the spooky connotation of bats with a number of superstitions built around the idea that bats were the harbingers of death. The act of going door-to-door for handouts has long been a part of Halloween celebrations. Toys, coins, fruit, and nuts were just as likely to be given out. The rise in the popularity of trick-or-treating in the s inspired candy companies to make a marketing push with small, individually wrapped confections.

Errol Hill (1921–2003)

According to some stories, a candymaker at the Wunderlee Candy Company in Philadelphia invented the revolutionary tri-color candy in the s. At the time, candy corn was called Chicken Feed and sold in boxes with the slogan "Something worth crowing for. Thirteen of these etymological tall-tales, taken from word origins guide Haggard Hawks and Paltry Poltroons , are explained and debunked here. According to the story, back in the days when computers were vast room-filling machines containing hundreds of moving parts, one of the earliest recorded malfunctions was caused by an insect making its home on one of the delicate mechanisms inside—and hence, all computer malfunctions since have been known as bugs.

A cabal is a group or sect of like-minded people, often with the implication that those involved are conspiring or working together for some clandestine purpose. The earliest known reference to golf in English? A popular story claims that when the English explorer Captain Cook first arrived in Australia in the late 18th century, he spotted a peculiar-looking animal bounding about in the distance and asked a native Aborigine what it was called. Cook then returned to his ship and wrote in his journal on 4 August that, "the animals which I have before mentioned [are] called by the Natives kangooroo.

When Mary I of Scotland fell ill while on a trip to France in the mids, she was served a sweet jelly-like concoction made from stewed fruit. Anything described as nasty was ultimately said to be as scathing or as cruel as his drawings. In the early s, the wealthiest passengers on cruise ships and liners could afford to pay for a port-side cabin on the outward journey and a starboard cabin on the homeward journey, thereby ensuring that they either had the best uninterrupted views of the passing coastlines, or else had a cabin that avoided the most intense heat of the sun.

These "port out starboard home" passengers are often claimed to have been the first posh people—but a far more likely explanation is that posh was originally simply a slang name for cash.

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The bogus story behind pumpernickel is that it comes from the French phrase pain pour Nicol , a quote attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte that essentially means "bread only good enough for horses. Well, no one is really sure—but one theory states that the bread might have originally been, shall we say, hard to digest. Back when horse manure and everything else, for that matter used to be transported by ship, the methane gas it gives off tended to collect in the lowest parts of the vessel—until a passing crewman carrying a lantern had the misfortune to walk by and blow the ship to pieces.

Did this ever happen? Who knows. Sincere is derived from the Latin sincerus , meaning "pure" or "genuine. None of these stories, of course, is true. Sirloin steak takes its name from sur , the French word for "above" as in surname , and so literally refers to the fact that it is the cut of meat found "above the loin" of a cow. When sur— began to be spelled sir— in English in the early s, however, a popular etymology emerged claiming that this cut of meat was so delicious that it had been knighted by King Charles II.


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  • Different theories claim that on lists of ferry passengers, lists of university students, and even on lists of guests at royal weddings, the word snob would once have been written beside the names of all those individuals who had been born sine nobilitate , or "without nobility.

    In the New Testament, "the word of God" is described as "sharper than any two-edged sword" Hebrews Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy.

    Shakespearean Acting Workshop by Stephen Unwin

    Thanks for helping us pay the bills! BY Paul Anthony Jones. Ira Aldridge as Othello circa Portrait of Ira Aldridge in Subscribe to our Newsletter! BY the mag. Carving Halloween Jack-O'-Lanterns. Bug According to the story, back in the days when computers were vast room-filling machines containing hundreds of moving parts, one of the earliest recorded malfunctions was caused by an insect making its home on one of the delicate mechanisms inside—and hence, all computer malfunctions since have been known as bugs.

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