The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0160  Wednesday, 24 January 2001

From:           Harry Teplitz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 23 Jan 2001 16:59:49 -0500
Subject:        Female Othello


I once directed the murder scene with a female Othello (a woman playing
a man) and men playing Desdamona and Emila (the scene was combined with
Desdemona's "willow song" scene).  I think it
raises some very interesting questions in the audience's mind when
Othello is cross-cast.

After seeing Patrick Stuart's Othello at the Shakespeare Theater here in
DC, I am convinced that the play contains to strong themes that can
sometimes get in the way of each other -- 1) race relations, and 2)
"domestic" abuse.  Personally, I felt Stuart's production was muddied by
trying to give equal weight to each, but that's another discussion....

By casting a woman as Othello, one could bring the violence against
women theme to the foreground over the racial one.  Obviously, the
audience would be focused on the incongruity of a woman acting out the
violence of a man against a woman. I'm not sure whether Desdemona need
be cross-cast as well for this to work.

I also like the idea of a female Othello since it opens up a wide range
of possibilities for Iago.  Is he in love with her/him?  Or is he just
further emasculated by such a commander?

-- Harry Teplitz

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