January 20, 2009

Thematic Structure of my Production of Othello

The production of Othello that I directed for Classic Theatre International was stark, brutal and unsentimental. We interpret it as a sixteenth century horror story that, tragically, is incredibly more than applicable in our modern world. In this production the tragedy is not in the downfall of a great man but rather in the cold-blooded murder of two marvelous and heroic women, Desdemona and Emilia. We view the production from a woman’s as well as a man’s point of view. We show the results of a male-dominated society where vanity, ego and appearance dominate rational and logical considerations and where women are treated as property and second-class citizens. It is a stinging indictment of the warrior mentality of Othello and the analytical yet maniacal and inhuman mentality of Iago.

We see Othello not as great man but rather as a very flawed individual who happens to be an outstanding warrior. Self-delusion is at the core of his character. His greatest flaws are his refusal to face the reality of his nature and his firm belief that he has the right to be judge, jury and executioner. Watching him we learn the importance of humility, of constantly questioning our motives, of knowing and admitting our weaknesses and failures and of constantly striving to improve ourselves. We are also reminded that no one except a legally appointed person, operating within the framework of a humanistic and ethical code, has the right to pass sentence on another human being.
In regard to Iago - unlike the standard portrayal of a dispassionate, unmotivated and coldly objective creature we see an obsessive, irrational, subjective, compulsive, reckless, maniacal paranoid who is overwhelmed with hatred and yet has the incredible ability to present to the world an entirely different personality. He literally thrives on danger and excitement.

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