We’ve got five pairs of tickets to give away to the Globe Theatre’s screening of their production of “The Comedy of Errors” on Thursday, June 25 at 7PM at the Guild 45th. Enter to win today!
Rehearsals for Wooden O summer 2015 began this week as the companies for As You Like It and Henry IV part 1 gathered together for a potluck dinner and to hear design presentations. Below is a transcript of Artist Director George Mount’s welcome to the company.
I don’t care what the calendar says…today’s the first day of summer!
Look outside, it’s so hot! And Wooden O begins today. For us now and in about a month’s time, we will unleash ourselves on the unsuspecting parks across the Seattle and Puget Sound region. Bringing, to my mind, and I think I’m not alone in this conception, the best free Shakespeare theatre anyone can experience in this state, and perhaps west of the Rocky Mountains, and maybe this great United States of ours. And you guys are what make that happen!
This day for me is a day that fraught with emotion, and it means the world to me. I was having lunch with a friend earlier today and talking about loyalty…and trust and commitment to people who mean something to you. And when you give that trust over to other human beings and they reciprocate that trust, it’s the foundation for growth and expression. And what is generated by that giving of trust and the accepting of trust…that is what Wooden O is about for me. It’s been over twenty years of me trusting people like Crystal Munkers, like Heather Hawkins, like Craig Wollam, Kelly Kitchens, and Hana Lass and Brenda Joyner, and Victoria McNaughton. From twenty years past to two to three years past. Giving and receiving trust is what we do as performing artists. We are a collaborative art form. And if we cannot trust each other and share in that trust and create within that trust, then we got nothing.
And I trust and love each and every one of you for being part of that journey. And I thank you for signing up. I again think we’ll have a great summer. Past performance is no guarantee of future dividends and they say in the stock market advertisements. But I believe in what we do and I believe in each and every one of you. And you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t believe in what we’re doing.
When you know how the trick is done and you still believe it…that’s magic. That’s what we do for Wooden O.
And what we’re doing is bringing free performing arts to our community. And what does that entail? And what does that mean? What that means is that there are a lot of people out there who don’t go to theatre. You’re going to share your art form with them this summer. They just don’t go. They can’t afford it. They live too far away. They think it’s too high brow. So we’re going to go and do that. We’re going to help them bridge that gap. So while we’re bridging that gap from a dead playwright from 400 years ago, we’re also going to bridge that gap for people in Tacoma, and Shoreline, and SeaTac, and Lynnwood. And they’re going to get to experience. They’re going to bridge that gap. That’s the continuum that we live in. That’s who we are. It also means, for the people who will be performing those shows that you will have to show up a little extra early, in a van, and unload a set, set up some costumes and tents. And be asked to make your preshow warm the exercise of setting up speakers. And doing your fight call in front of people who are already audience members. It means changing costumes in a tent that everyone can see. They’re not going to see you changing costumes, but they can see that tent where you’re changing.
It also means that if you need to get around to behind the house to do an audience entrance that they’re going to see you doing that. But there’s theatre magic. And it doesn’t have to have a theatre to make theatre magic. And what Wooden O has capitalized on in the 22+ years that we’ve been doing it, is that whatever happens outside of that sacred space that we define, whether it’s already defined in the Luther Burbank Amphitheater monoliths, or your stage management team taping it out with architecture tape and spikes; you define that space and that’s magic space. And the moment you cross that threshold, the audience will buy whatever you’re selling them…because you believe in it. And that’s real theatrical magic. When you know how the trick is done and you still believe it…that’s magic. That’s what we do for Wooden O.
So you’re going to have some scrappy times and you’re going to have some joyful times. And that’s part of the magic.
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.