Shakespeare’s Histories and Polish History: Television Productions of Henry IV (1975), Richard III (1989) and Othello (1981/1984)
The article discusses the reception and signification of select televisual productions of Shakespeare’s history plays on Polish television. My choice of teleplays has been determined by two factors: one the one hand, history plays aired on Polish television were rare and their accessibility limited; on the other hand, I want to illustrate the fate of Shakespeare productions in the context of Polish post-war history by comparing them with yet another play, which seems to be resistant to political interpretation: Othello, produced in 1981 and aired in 1984. My argument is that although officially the teleplays discussed in the article did not allude to the political situation in Poland at the time of their production/airing, yet one could attempt to reconstruct a possible political reading of the productions, which could have been implied in them, or which the then recipients could have come up with. Due to censorship, official reviews of the productions avoided political references to the current affairs in Poland. Since Shakespeare’s plays on television have not been extensively discussed so far, the article is one of the first attempts to suggest a politically-oriented interpretation of selected teleplays aired before 1990.