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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: January ::
Re: Female Othello
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0168  Thursday, 25 January 2001

[1]     From:   Laura Blankenship <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 24 Jan 2001 11:14:29 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0148 Re: Female Othello

[2]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 24 Jan 2001 13:18:40 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0160 Re: Female Othello

[3]     From:   Krishna Dunston <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 24 Jan 2001 17:15:35 -0800
        Subj:   Female Othello

[4]     From:   Manuela Rossini <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Jan 2001 13:45:33 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0160 Re: Female Othello


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Laura Blankenship <
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Date:           Wednesday, 24 Jan 2001 11:14:29 -0600
Subject: 12.0148 Re: Female Othello
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0148 Re: Female Othello

> As to me, I am usually reluctant to appreciate too fantastical
> interpretations of Shakespeare's plays.  In this case, I think that (in
> addition to the many and strong inconsistencies a production like that
> would meet) the audience would be distracted from noticing every other
> aspect of the play except the sensational homosexual one (which, by the
> way, does not belong to this play).

But since you're having a female Othello, you could have a male
Desdemona--if you wanted to maintain focus on issues of power rather
than have the audience focused on the homosexual relationship.  Of
course, now we're adapting quite a bit--but I think it would be an
interesting adaptation--one that, as a feminist, I would certainly watch
or read with great interest.

Laura Blankenship

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Wednesday, 24 Jan 2001 13:18:40 -0600
Subject: 12.0160 Re: Female Othello
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0160 Re: Female Othello

The talk about the female Othello still baffles me. I find it hard to
imagine doing that to the show just to be "interesting." It's a love
story, for heaven's sake. Race relations and domestic violence are quite
secondary.

You cannot keep the love theme and change the gender of one of the
lovers without changing the entire meaning of the show. To do a lesbian
"Othello" has points of interest, and certainly as much validity as many
another radical staging, but it won't be at all like a straight
"Othello" (or a gay one).

Frankly I think you'd lose way too much to make it worth while.

Regards,
don

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Krishna Dunston <
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Date:           Wednesday, 24 Jan 2001 17:15:35 -0800
Subject:        Female Othello

I directed my master's thesis at NYU last year with a female Othello and
the response of the actors and the audience was very positive.

My primary goal in the project was to re-evaluate Othello's "Otherness"
in a sphere outside of race.  The result was far more visceral and far
less academic than I anticipated.  The actress played Othello as a woman
masquerading as a man - but the relationship between Othello and
Desdemona was portrayed as a lesbian one.  The sexual tension was
heightened and the sexual language was brought to the fore.

I am not convinced that a female Othello can be done without the aspect
of 'masquerade' I imposed on my interpretation (although that point was
vigorously debated by the thesis committee) but I think it is worth the
attempt.  The one thing I learned in my experiment is that the text is
more adaptable than one would suppose - Othello can certainly stand more
re-evaluation and re-interpretation than it is usually given.

I am not a devotee of overly conceptualized productions of Shakespeare
and probably would not have attempted it had it not been part of an
academic process.  However - the result was enough to make me want to
attempt it again.

-Krishna

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Manuela Rossini <
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Date:           Thursday, 25 Jan 2001 13:45:33 +0100
Subject: 12.0160 Re: Female Othello
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0160 Re: Female Othello

Antioch College (Yellow Springs, Ohio - yes, near Cincinnati) will be
playing NEW OTHELLO (directed by Carlyle Brown) at the end of March.
I've read that a white female Othello figures in it, along with a black
Othello.  You (I forgot who posted the question initially) might want to
call the venue (The Park) for further info: (937) 754-6736.

Best,
Manuela Rossini
 

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