Thursday, August 05, 2010

Othello done Much Ado begins

After teaching my class last week, I was also in the midst of the tour for "Othello" with the Rebels. Things were incredibly busy there for a number of days. The cast of "Othello" was stupendous, the show was outstanding. I'm still stunned from what I saw.

"Othello" is a difficult play. Everyone thinks of it as the play about race. It is more than that -- race plays into it for certain but the story overall is Iago's selfishness and his self-centeredness, the fact that he didn't get a promotion and he hates his boss because of it. He is mastered only by himself and his own wants and desires. He hates that Cassio got the job that he wanted, and decided that he will crush Othello and ruin his life and Cassio's life as punishment for it. He doesn't care who falls in the process.

It is an amazing and sad story.

Everyone thinks of it as the race story; but it is really the tale of one man's selfishness. And four people die in the end because of it. Race brings people in the door, and everyone knows this is the "death by pillow" play. Someone wrote on facebook "why would you do this play? Othello is a wifebeater." It is so much more than that.... he is a good man who is twisted and driven by the lies told by someone he counts as "Honest, honest Iago."

Othello could be any color. He could never end his wife's life by suffocation. The story would still be as twisted. The only one who matters in this tale is Iago. One of the greatest sociopaths in literary history.

I had the pleasure of watching two casts perform the show. Ryan and Jackson both took turns playing Iago and both approached the role differently. The photo here is of Ryan, who seemed to find Iago's behaviors more as a joke and in the end he seemed to show remorse for what he'd done. Jackson played it straight through as a monomaniacal evil genius, with no remorse at all. In the last show, when he stands there charged with what he's done, Jackson actually laughed, and stood there with this soft, crazy grin.

One cannot say who did it better, which Iago was the better Iago. They were both amazing and they were different.

And now they're on to the next play.

Much Ado About Nothing. How totally opposite of Othello. I cannot wait to see what the kids do. We have 2 sets of the lead couple of Beatrice and Benedick. Henry and Zoe are paired together and they will be hysterical. I'm sure that Alison and Seth will be a riot too. The other couple are Rozzie and Joe, they play Hero and Claudio.

The 2 couples of Beatrice and Benedick will switch off and each will have 5 opportunities to perform the shows over the ten show tour.

That is pretty much the focus of my life right now. Getting Jess ready to leave for college, doing the publicity for the Rebel Shows, and putting up with Geoff being bored out of his mind and nagging me every three minutes that he wants the laptop. Oh joy. Oh bliss.

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