the Playbill – Director’s Notes:
Othello, the Moor, a foreigner
in sixteenth century Venice, comes home in some deep
spiritual way when he meets and falls in love with
the pure, lovely and charming Desdemona. Othello has
traveled the world and left his homeland far behind.
He has been an outsider in other cultures for many
years, working as a professional soldier. These foreign
cultures may pay him tribute and give him accolades,
but Desdemona invites Othello into her heart. How
in the world do we get from here to Othello’s murder
of Desdemona three days later? ….
Enter Iago. We the audience
feel we know Othello the Moor despite his otherness
which we deem superficial. But Iago is the quintessential
unknowable. Why does Iago set out to destroy Othello?
He gives a myriad of reasons, any of them true or
false at any given moment. One might as well ask why
there is evil in the world. And yet, of course, Iago’s
evil is totally shrouded in his sameness: he is a
member of Venetian society, the kid next door, the
honest and loyal friend, the one Othello trusts to
escort his wife to Cyprus.
Our production of Othello is set in the sixteenth
century at the time when Venice ruled in Cyprus and
was fending off the Turks in military combat. I’ve
chosen this traditional setting in order to explore
the meaning of otherness in the context that Shakespeare
created for us. Current events resonate strongly for
me in this story, but I leave the drawing of parallels