UGA closes 2017-2018 season with Shakespeare’s timely masterpiece Othello
Athens, GA—UGA Theatre presents “Othello” by William Shakespeare, directed by Kristin Kundert. Performances will be held in the Fine Arts Theatre April 6-7 & 12-14 at 8 pm and April 8 & 15 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $16, $12 for students, and can be purchased at ugatheatre.com/othello, by phone at 706-542-4400, or in person at the Performing Arts Center or Tate Center box office.
Shakespeare’s “Othello,” widely regarded as one the greatest masterpieces of English literature, is a meditation on the nature of cruelty and envy. Othello, a valiant and renowned general, has earned the love and respect of the state he serves—and more importantly that of Desdemona, whom he secretly marries. But his most trusted friend and advisor, Iago, harbors a hidden resentment against him. In a bitter quest to destroy Othello, Iago carefully sows the seeds of doubt in him and effectively poisons the minds of everyone he encounters.
UGA Theatre has re-imagined its premiere venue for the production.
“We have completely reconfigured the Fine Arts Theatre for this production to maximize the impact of the play’s relentless drive and raw emotional intensity,” said David Saltz, head of the department of theatre and film studies. Instead of being seated in the theatre’s 678-seat auditorium, the entire audience will be seated on the stage, completely surrounding the actors. “Our designer, Michael O’Connell, has effectively created an intimate 180-seat theatre-in-the-round just for this show. Everyone in the audience will have an amazing view very close to the action.”
The scenic design seeks to convey the opulent world of Venice and Cyprus in the 1490s, where the story is set. These areas were at the epicenter of military might and religious conflict. “For Shakespeare and his audience, Venice and Cyprus were the furthest footholds before Christian Europe gave way to Islam and the middle east: impossibly wealthy, powerful, distant, and exotic settings for a story of passion and betrayal,” O’Connell said.
Critics often describe Iago as the personification of pure, unmotivated evil. He spends most of the play spreading lies and half-truths. Both director Kristin Kundert and dramaturg Fran Teague believe Iago’s brilliant ability to distort reality is what makes the play so timely. Teague observes that “Iago apprehends every scrap of gossip he can, but he comprehends what he hears only through his own desire to destroy.”
“‘Othello’ is a timeless and timely tragedy that explores issues of race, envy, revenge, and the spread of misinformation,” said Kundert. “For today’s audience, the issue of misinformation seems to be the most significant in a play full of significant themes. As a nation, we are told almost daily that what we read or hear is ‘fake news’ despite a mountain of facts. In that light, ‘Othello’ becomes a far more chilling and relevant work.”
Othello – Marlon Andrew Burnley
Iago – Charlie Cromer
Desdemona & Singer – Melanie Sheahan
Emelia – Katie Butcher
Cassio – Brian Chenard
Roderigo – Anna Pieri
Messenger & Bianca – Alexa Adcock
1st Senator & Othello Attendant/Singer – Brie Wolfe
3rd Senator & Prostitute – Zachary Pareizs
Brabantio’s Servant & 1st Soldier – Justin Hall
Gratiano – Natascha Tang
Lodovico – Lauren King
Brabantio & 3rd Soldier – Scotty Gannon
Brabantio’s Servant, Prostitute, & Singer – Olivia Babuka Black
Duke & Montano – Anthony Nash
2nd Senator & 2nd Soldier – Javier Soriano