It was recorded on November 23, 534 BC, that Thespis of Icaria became the first actor to step out of the chorus and portray a character onstage. Now celebrated as International Thespian Day.
To the Disputed Woman Who First Graced the English Stage as Desdemona
by Nona Blyth Cloud
December 8, 1660 – A woman– likely Margaret Hughes, but possibly Anne Marshall – appears on an English public stage for the first time, in the role of Desdemona in a production of Shakespeare’s play Othello
How careless men are with our histories!
How easily one pretty face confused for another.
Perhaps they were so beguiled
By a glimpse of feminine ankle,
Or the sighs raising your womanly bosom,
They never noticed your face at all.
Even now, the first thing ‘historians’ tell us
Is whose mistress you probably were.
Picture 1: The Theatre at Epidaurus, Greece, built in 330 B.C.E., still in use today
Picture 2, on the left:
Othello and Desdemona in Venice by Théodore Chassériau (1819–1856)
Picture 3, on the right:
Portrait of Margaret Hughes, artist uncredited
Sadly, I could find no portrait of Anne Marshall