Margaret Webster

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Margaret Webster
BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States

Webster, Margaret


Born Mar. 15, 1905, in New York City; died Nov. 13, 1972, in London. American actress, director, and producer.

Webster was the daughter of the well-known English actor Benjamin Webster and the actress May Whitty. She made her acting debut in 1924 in London. In 1929–30, she was a member of the Old Vic Theatre, where in 1932 she played the role of Lady Macbeth. She lived in the USA from 1936. Webster’s major roles included Masha and Madame Ranevskaia in Chekhov’s The Sea Gull and The Cherry Orchard. In 1946, Webster joined E. Le Gallienne in organizing the American Repertory Theatre (1946–47).

Some of Webster’s best work was as a director of Shakespeare’s plays. In 1943 she directed Othello, with P. Robeson in the title role in a Theatre Guild production. (She interpreted the play as the tragedy of a black in a racist society.) From 1948 to 1950, Webster managed a touring Shakespearean company, which introduced college and university students to the works of Shakespeare, including Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and The Taming of the Shrew. She also staged plays in various theaters in the USA and Canada. Webster also produced operas, including Verdi’s Don Carlo (1950) and Aida (1951) for the Metropolitan Opera and Walton’s Troilus and Cressida (1955) for the New York City Opera. Webster was the author of Shakespeare Without Tears and articles about the theater.


Shakespeare Without Tears. New York, 1942.
Shakespeare Today. New York, 1957.
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