Program - "Othello", Collingwood Town Hall, 20th and 21st October 1995


Director's Notes

Othello is a play traditionally about racism. Shakespeare's tragic hero is in a bi-racial marriage with the beautiful, white Desdemona. Having just led his army to victory, he sparks the hatred and jealousy of Iago. With the help of his wife Emilia, who is Desdemona's hand maid, Iago leads Othello to believe that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. In a fit of rage, Othello stabs Cassio before smothering his innocent wife whereupon Emilia breaks down and confesses the treachery of Iago to Othello. Othello is left to deal with the consequences of his action.

The delicious irony of my casting Ms Willmott as Othello lies in her empathy, as a woman, with Othello's racial oppression. In a similar vein, the villains are portrayed by both male and female actors thus highlighting both the manipulation of women by the whole of society and the conflict and turmoil that exists between different branches of feminist theory.

And Othello - actually, did you know there's a board game called Othello? Dumb, eh? I mean, you can't really imagine inviting your friends over for a game of Othello, now can you? "OK, you be Desdemona and I'll smother you to death with a pillow" - I mean, really. Can't see the marketing potential behind that one. What you want from a board game is something more challenging . You know. I'm talking about your Kerplunks, your Battling Tops, your Hungry Hippos. Now there's conflict, action, tragedy. There's man struggling with the metaphysical. Old Shakespeare never quite scaled those heights, did he? I mean, you never saw him write The Tragedy of Ker-Plunk now did you? No no no, he buggerised around with some old twat from Denmark who couldn't make up his fucking mind. Gripping I DON'T think. Not like Hungry Hippo. Yeah - push the button and everybody goes like the clappers on their cheap plastic Hippo head thingy until all the marbles are gone. Fucking brilliant. Yeah, so, Othello. Oh... yes. Er sorry. Kind of lost it a bit there, sorry.

This is supposed to be a sombre explanation of a great literary work. Sorry. How could I demean it by referring to children's board games? This is high art, performed by thespians of the highest pedigree, not some cheap plastic mass produced infantile school holiday Valium substitute. Forget board games, let's talk drama.

The Anibiosis Players chose to represent this text because they believe it to be not only as pertinent today as it was when written but also a powerful vehicle for struggles yet to come. We hope you enjoy our interpretation of Othello.

Should you wish to find out more about this production, you are cordially invited to join the Anibiosis Players after the performance for a brief discussion seminar on their interpretation of Othello. TISM regrettably cannot attend this session, as they will be playing naked Twister in the dressing room.


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