Cassidy Brown, starring as Iago in Marin Shakespeare’s Othello, brings his comedic skills to one of Shakespeare’s more complex, cunning characters
Known for his comedic roles in a variety of Bay Area stage productions, Cassidy Brown is playing “against type” in his leading role as Iago in the Marin Shakespeare Company production of “Othello.”
“There is a certain argument that says that comedic actors often make the best dramatic actors,” said Brown who lives in Oakland.
“I know that the audiences at Marin Shakespeare, if they remember me, know me as a comic buffoon,” said Brown. “I’ve been one of a trio of clowns in Complete History of America (Abridged), the drunken butler Stephano in The Tempest and most recently I played a variety of broad, comic, masked characters in Don Quixote. ”
“Audiences may be surprised to see me take on Iago, one of Shakespeare’s most complex and cunning characters,” said Brown. “The same ability a great stand-up comic has to understand (and exploit) human foibles for maximum laughs gives him unique insight into the darker aspects of the human condition.”
“Within the comic world, I am usually somewhat the nebbish, neurotic, hapless guy to which things happen. And I love those roles. It is such a joy to work inside a skill set that I know is well developed and I can confidently pull off with panache. But, sometimes we get the chance to stretch our muscles, to work against the expected, to surprise the audience, and ourselves, ” said Brown. “And while I can bring all my skill to bear on a role like Iago, it is still terrifying. Terrifying in a good way. As an artist, I am hungry to be challenged, to be asked to step outside my comfort zone, to have my reach possibly exceed my grasp.”
“There is a certain argument that says that comedic actors often make the best dramatic actors – Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Mary Tyler Moore to name a few,” said Brown. “I think some of the understanding we gain from really getting into comedy both physically and psychologically transfer brilliantly to drama. Understanding the perfect pause for best comic timing is really the same as understanding the power of a calculated silence for best emotional impact. And the same ability a great stand-up comic has to understand (and exploit) human foibles for maximum laughs gives them unique insight into the darker aspects of the human condition which comprises the most affecting dramas.”
“Why do I want to play the role of Iago? He represents the antithesis of my own world view. But, he also carries with him an ethos that I fear is shared by a significant portion of our population. An ethos I fear. And I want to explore it, to greater understand it. It is frightening to me to think that I will find some form of empathy for Iago. But, I have to if I want to tell the story. If I can understand him better, hopefully I can address some of the things that make him tick in other people,” said Brown.
“And honestly, I really hope to get a number of laughs as well. Because our best comedy comes out of emotional truth,” said Brown.