We’ve got five pairs of tickets to give away to the Globe Theatre’s screening of their production of “Antony and Cleopatra” on Thursday, June 4 at 7PM at the Guild 45th. Enter to win today!
Although it is still months away, we’re already getting excited about one of Shakespeare’s First Folio’s coming to Seattle next spring. NPR featured a new book called the “Millionaire and the Bard” about Henry Folger’s search to collect first editions of Shakespeare’s plays. His diligence will be Seattle’s gift when we finally get to see them up close at the Seattle Public Library.
What’s the connection between Othello and Measure for Measure…besides the author? Ever use the phrase green-eyed monster and know where it originated? We’ve got answers and more in our handy guide to Othello.
The Giraldi Connection
Like many of his plays, Othello wasn’t entirely created from Shakespeare’s imagination. He borrowed heavily from an Italian novella called Un Capitano Moro (A Moorish Captain) by Giovanni Battista Giraldi (also known by his pen name Cinthio). Shakespeare probably read it in the original Italian. It also turns out that Giraldi provided inspiration for Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure in his Promos and Cassandra that was adapted by George Whetstone.
So…what did Shakespeare add?
Well, all of the names in the play, with the exception of Desdemona, were created by Shakespeare since the source story only referred to them by their rank or title. The lovesick character of Roderigo doesn’t appear at all in Giraldi’s original story. It is possible Shakespeare added him to provide some comic relief and give Iago a sidekick. The way in which Desdemona dies is also different than the source novella.
What’s in a Name?
Othello means “wealth” and may have been taken by Shakespeare from the name of an ancient Roman emperor whose nickname was Otho. Desdemona means “ill-fated.”
Words, Words, Words
Although Othello is the tragic hero in the play (and has his name in the title!) it’s the character of Iago that has the most to say…1098 lines of dialogue! Othello by comparison has 887 lines
It’s ironic, dontcha think…
The word “honest” or some variation on it is said in the play 52 times (I dare you to count ‘em!). AND it’s used most often by or about Iago!
So…what’s the story?
Othello is a powerful general in the Venetian army. Although he and his friend Iago have been through many battles together, Othello gives a promotion to Michael Cassio instead of Iago. Enraged, Iago starts plotting Othello’s downfall.
Othello has eloped and married Desdemona without her father’s consent, and is brought before the duke of Venice. The duke is impressed by Othello’s honesty and by Desdemona’s loyalty to him, and encourages her father to accept the marriage. He also enlists the Othello’s services to fight the Turks. Othello and Desdemona arrive in Cyprus, where they find that the Turkish fleet has already been destroyed by a storm. During the ensuing celebrations, Iago gets Cassio drunk and spurs him on to a brawl that results in his dismissal from Othello’s service.
Iago works to convince Othello that Cassio is sleeping with Desdemona. He gradually establishes this suspicion in Othello’s mind, while denying that he himself believes it. Desdemona notices her husband’s sudden coolness toward her and confides in Emilia, Iago’s wife. Unaware of Iago’s scheme, Emilia assists him by procuring a handkerchief that was given to Desdemona as a keepsake by Othello. When it turns up in Cassio’s possession, Othello is convinced of his wife’s infidelity. He smothers her to death in their bed, only to find out from Emilia that it was she who stole the kerchief for Iago. Overwhelmed by guilt, he attempts to kill Iago, and then stabs himself, dying at his wife’s side. Iago is arrested and refuses to explain his motives or to confess his crimes.
Othello, a general in Venice’s military
Desdemona, daughter to Brabantio and wife to Othello
Iago, Othello’s ensign (rank immediately below lieutenant)
Michael Cassio, Othello’s lieutenant
Emilia, wife to Iago and Desdemona’s attendant
Roderigo, a Venetian gentleman
Bianca, mistress to Cassio
Brabantio, a senator
Duke of Venice, the official authority in Venice
Montano, governor of Cyprus before Othello
Lodovico, kinsman to Brabantio
Gratiano, brother to Brabantio
There are three Moors appear in Shakespeare’s plays: Aaron in Titus Andronicus, the Prince of Morocco in The Merchant of Venice, and Othello. Featuring black characters in Elizabethan plays was rare, but one’s in which they were the main story was almost unheard of. Due to global trade, London was an international city while Shakespeare was creating his plays. There would have been people of various ethnic backgrounds walking the streets or perhaps even attending a play.
Our production of Othello has a blending of old and modern elements to it. Director John Langs and the cast are exploring the idea that Othello and other military personnel may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury from their time fighting in the field.
You Heard It Here First
Shakespeare has given us words and phrases that we use every day, but before he made them up they didn’t exist. Below are some familiar phrases and words that first hit the English language scene with Othello. Listen closely in the play to see if you can catch them all.
- A foregone conclusion.
- Green-eyed monster.
- I will wear my heart upon my sleeve.
- Neither here nor there.
- Vanish into thin air.
- Chaos is come again.
- Pomp and circumstance.
- Enmesh – to wrap around or entangle, to trap
- Hint – occasion or opportunity; suggestion or clue
- Seamy-side – underside with stitches showing; degraded aspect or part; sordid side
Want to find out more? Check out Coined by Shakespeare by Jeffrey McQuain and Stanley Malless for an in-depth study and fun exploration of Shakespeare’s creative wordplay.
Buy One, Get One Free Ticket Sale to “Othello”
We’re celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday. The Bard of Avon would be 451 years old today…and you get the gift!
With our buy one, get one free ticket sale, you can bring a friend to our upcoming production of Othello (April 29-May 17). Considered to be Shakespeare’s most gripping and passionate play, Othello is the story of a soldier propelled into a murderous fury by his wife’s apparent unfaithfulness. Othello plays for 17 performances.
Buy one adult ticket and get the second ticket for free to any performance of Othello when you use the code BDAY2015 when ordering tickets. This offer ends at midnight April 23, 2015.
Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Catering and Events
If you’ve been to Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Bill’s Bash gala or opening night parties, you’ve tasted their scrumptious bites and experienced their excellent service. They’re in the lobby at ACT and here, in the Cornish Playhouse, selling treats and tending the bar. And recently, if you’ve been to Benaroya Hall, you may have grabbed a pre-concert meal at Muse or a snack at Davids & Co. How did Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Catering and Events become Seattle’s caterer to the arts? It turns out to be something that came about organically, much like the growth of the business that David Haggerty and David Meckstroth started over 25 years ago.
At the time, both were waiting tables at Triples restaurant on Lake Union. Haggerty needed help with his infant son, Reed, during a catering gig and asked Meckstroth to watch him. “Reed is in the back seat of the car just crying hysterically, and David’s trying to comfort him,” said Haggerty. So they switch roles with Meckstroth setting up for the job. “But then the client was so great about it, and then it ended up that she took Reed while David and I set the whole thing up.” The event went off without a hitch, and a few weeks later they talked about catering together. “The conversation was, ‘Well . . . what do ya think?’ and I replied, ‘Well…do we have to bring Reed all the time?’” Meckstroth laughs which leads to Haggerty laughing
It turns out that laughter has been the bedrock of their partnership — and that little question “Well…what do you think?” has been the business compass for Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes. Haggerty and Meckstroth discovered through trial and error how they balance each others’ strengths. “I think the best thing I can says is that it starts with a lot of trust,” said Meckstroth. There’s a great friendship component that we’ve been very lucky to have not lost over the years. We can still laugh together. You know, I can close the door, and I can laugh with this guy easier than anybody I know.”
And behind that closed door has also been where the springboard question “What do you think?” is asked. That question has led to running a deli, expanding the catering business, purchasing the Hall at Fauntleroy as an event venue, new catering partners, and a new venue to accommodate their expanding operations. “Watch what happens when you find a space that you can grow into,” said Haggerty. “Because all of a sudden…you’ll grow.”
And grow they have. Their connection to the arts started small but, with a core value of great food and amazing service, reputation brought them new opportunities. “We really try to instill a guest-first attitude and team approach for all of our staff,” said Haggerty. “The only way the company is going to continue to grow is if everyone is carrying those guiding principles to help them make decisions.”
If you haven’t yet had the Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes experience, there’s no better opportunity than now. Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes handles the concession sales in the lobby for the Cornish Playhouse, so grab a beverage and bite to eat and keep them in mind if you have an event on your horizon.