Thurs 28th February - Sat 2nd March & Tues 5th March - Sat 9th March 1985
Directed by Jacquie Penrose
Human emotions on a grand, poetic scale. Othello is powerful generous and naive; he loves "not wisely but too well" and in his passion falls prey to jealousy. A Shakespearian tragedy which deals not in great public issues but in human personality, and in the power of deceit and jealousy to destroy innocence.
Othello, a black general in the Venetian army (although not himself a Venetian), falls in love with a senator's daughter, Desdemona. Custom will not permit their marriage so they elope. Iago, who has been passed over for promotion by Othello, and who is eaten up by jealousy, determines to destroy Othello, and anyone else he thinks has more than they deserve. Iago convinces Othello that Desdemona is having as affair with Cassio (the newly promoted Lieutenant), using Othello's colour, age and foreignness as reasons why she should be unfaithful. In a blind rage, Othello tries to have Cassio killed, and then he kills his wife. To protect himself, Iago kills his own wife Emilia, but not before she reveals the whole plot. Realising the terrible mistake he has made, and unable to live without the love he has destroyed, Othello kills himself.
Othello himself is one of Shakespeare's most likeable tragic heroes; a glamorous and courageous warrior, he is warm-hearted, hot-tempered and forgiving - and infinitely trusting of his fellow human beings. Such spirit makes him vulnerable to a villain like Iago, who is determined to prove that his own sharp wits and ruthless cunning can lord it over mere goodness, which he despises. Desdemona is a fit wife for such a hero; young but courageous, and willing to fly in the face of convention. She defends her love with directness and energy, and with only the faintest tremor prepares to go off to war on the very night of their wedding. These two are destroyed not because of their folly, but because they have no defence against the likes of Iago, who uses them as a test of his own strength.
The play is set in 16th Century Venice - a setting which for the Elizabethan imagination meant a glitteringly beautiful jewel set in a sea of corruption and vice. Venetians, it was believed, made excellent spies. The action then moves to Cyprus, which has been a colony of Venice for many years. Othello is sent to defend it from the Turks, who are determined to seize Venice's vast empire from her. In the play, the threat of war is diverted by a timely storm, but in history the island did eventually fall to the Turks in 1570, amid atrocious bloodshed. The Venetian governor, it was said, was flayed alive after prolonged public torture, and his skin was kept as a trophy. This defeat marked the beginning of the end of Venice's great power.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Duke of Venice||John Scadding|
|John Bohun |
|Stage Manager||Bill Bickers|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Karen Caen|
|Lighting Design||Peter Corrigan|
|Lighting Operation||Sue Cooremans|
|Costume Design||Jane Hart|
|Costume Assistant||Jo German|
|Set Design||David Penrose|
|Set Construction||David Brown|
|Fight Director||Alan Eagle|
'Othello' is unique among Shakespeare's tragedies in that it deals not with the massive problems of the getting, losing and retrieving of crowns and their attendant woes - sentiments which we can feel for but not share - but with very real and recognisable emotions in people not unlike ourselves. It is true that the characters are senators, generals and the well born, but their tragedy derives not from their public role but from their private emotions.