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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: December ::
Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2821  Wednesday, 12 December 2001

[1]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Dec 2001 19:02:43 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO

[2]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Dec 2001 17:35:19 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO

[3]     From:   Richard Regan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Dec 2001 22:22:59 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO

[4]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Dec 2001 22:30:23 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO

[5]     From:   Gary Allen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Dec 2001 21:07:12 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO

[6]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Dec 2001 04:55:29 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO

[7]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Dec 2001 07:46:23 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2801 NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Dec 2001 19:02:43 -0500
Subject: 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO

>  The play MUST NOT become--or
> even threaten to become-- Iago's play.

Iago has more lines than any other character in the canon, except
Hamlet.  He is the active agent; Othello is the object he acts upon.  He
has a richer interior existence -- three dimensions to Othello's one or
two.  In fact, in my view, it is Iago's intellectual superiority (in
light of his social inferiority) which supplies the much-sought motive
for his malignity.  Why should it be anyone else's play?

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Dec 2001 17:35:19 -0800
Subject: 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO

I don't know about this one.  Obviously, the tragedy is Othello's, but
it is easy to dominate a play when you statistically have most of the
lines, and directly address the audience.  Maybe you are even intended
to dominate it.

On the other hand, there have been great productions where Othello
dominated (Dexter's, Paul Robson's - whoever directed those, Michael:
are you lurking?), and great productions where Iago dominated (Nunn's,
Miller's).

Doesn't seem like a clear choice to me.

Mike Jensen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Regan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Dec 2001 22:22:59 EST
Subject: 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO

I agree with John Velz that the play must not belong to Iago.
Christopher Plummer stole the play from James Earl Jones some years ago,
and it turned into a fiasco: the audience giggled when Iago stabbed
Emilia, and Iago/Plummer got the final spotlight, holding up the
handkerchief in triumph.

Richard Regan
Fairfield University

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Dec 2001 22:30:23 -0500
Subject: 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO

> Iago is a wonderful malcontent and a marvelous study of anger, but I
> think any production that let's him steal the show misses the point: we
> live through Othello, not Iago--in Othello we see our own craving for
> the ocular proof, we recognize our own stupid pride; like him we are
> profoundly fools and dupes. Few lines chill me more than "Put out the
> light, and then put out the light." We know what we are soon to do and
> yet we cannot think of why we ought to pause.
>
> Jack

> The play MUST NOT become--or
> even threaten to become-- Iago's play.  It must be Othello's tragedy.
> So Ferrer was doing some scene stealing and should not have been allowed
> to do so.  I wonder now who the director was.  He should have stepped on
> Ferrer.
>
> Cheers,
> John W.V.

It seems to me far less "destructive" to the play to allow a particular
emphasis on the characters' relationships than to place it in an urban
high school. Such nuances are completely consistent with the text and
left to the director's discretion by the playwright.  I don't think it's
a question of better or worse, but merely of different.  Iago is a
personification of an evil that inhabits Othello's soul, and Othello is
its more eloquent spokesman. It is Othello's tragedy, but his tragedy is
that his virtue is overwhelmed by the evil of Iago, so that playing his
noble nature as strong compared with all the other characters, but weak
compared with Iago's evil emphasizes their relationship as an
externalization of an unsuccessful struggle between good and evil in an
individual soul.

Clifford

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gary Allen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Dec 2001 21:07:12 EST
Subject: 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2809 Re: NYT Review of the Public's OTHELLO

John Velz asks,

>The play MUST NOT become--or
>even threaten to become-- Iago

 

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