Friday, February 27, 2009

A Goth *Othello*

Director William Marlowe has given a Goth look to his production, coming up March 5-15 at SFCC. (See the Feb. 17 post here.)


Bobo: Does the production have a concept or non-Jacobean historical setting?
Marlowe: As you can tell from the photos, the concept is to put it in a modern romantic context with strong “Goth” overtones. Think *Underworld* in flavor. Much of the play takes place in the dark and I thought it would bring in the younger demographic.

Bobo: During table work, what misperceptions did students have about Shakespeare or Jacobean London or iambic pentameter or revenge tragedy?
Marlowe: I did not delve into discussions about revenge tragedy. We did some comparative talking about this play and *Titus Andronicus* as a reference. A good amount of time was spent on the language and scansion. We used the *No Fear* version to help the many first-time Shakespeare actors with what they were saying.

Bobo: How much cutting of the text did you do?
Marlowe: Many cuts, to say the least. I just can’t imagine my audience sitting through the entire play and quite frankly, some of it needed to go. The musicians are gone and most but not all of the clown. We have changed some words to a more modern translation: "horologe," for example. I have included a 1.2 battle between Brabantio’s men and Othello’s soldiers. I also couched the 3.3 Iago and Othello insinuation scene as a practice with quarterstaffs. It makes for some nice visual punctuation of the dialogue.

Bobo: Is Iago gay, envious of Cassio, racist, angry over Emilia's infidelity, or what? In other words, is Coleridge's formulation ("the motive-searching of motiveless malignity") correct, and he's satanic -- we simply cannot explain his evil, or what?
Marlowe: We did discuss the idea that Iago is in love/lust with Othello and becomes satisfied when he gets Cassio’s position. I will not have Iago die between Othello’s legs as Mr. Brannagh did. Iago embodies evil but not evil just as a device. He has real jealousy about his position and his perceived infidelity of his wife.

Bobo: In their own ways, how are Othello and Desdemona a) naive and b) admirable?
Marlowe: It is important to the play that we clearly see Othello as the outsider who has overstepped his social status in marrying Desdemona. I like the idea of full and true love between them and that Iago is primarily motivated by the loss of being lieutenant. We do provide a sort of “Branded” moment to make that visually clear when Cassio is demoted and then Iago becomes the lieutenant. Othello is inexperienced in domestic matters and I think the script supports that idea. Desdemona is in complete love and cannot see the danger until 5.2. Even then she does not understand it and forgives Othello at the end by naming him “kind lord."
Stylistically we are playing the fourth wall with everyone but Iago. He is taking the audience in and sharing all his secrets with us in his asides.

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