Download e-book for iPad: Othello by Martin L. Wine (auth.)

By Martin L. Wine (auth.)

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If, as some believe, that the black actor automatically reduces the full scope of the play to one only of racial conflict, then the fault lies with that particular actor and his director and not in the fact that he is black. Fundamentally, of course, the question is finally unanswerable. In the play, Othello is black whether played by a white or a black actor. Black actors have not been notably more successful than white ones , and the real test lies in the individual performance whether it works or not.

Costumes, inspired by 'Fenton's pictures from the Crimea or Matthew Brady's of the American Civil War', carefully distinguished the Venetian from the Cypriot scenes. In the former, as the programme indicated, 'The aroma of cigars and brandy infiltrates the fine cloth, gold braided jacket, and pomaded hair of the officers' whereas in the latter the military appear 'weathered and aged as their surroundings . . coarse cloth swelling from the unwashed body and stained with its sweat.... ' Some reviewers thought that the costumes smacked a little too much of Gilbert and Sullivan, and that Desdemona in her crinolines seemed too much 'a Florence Nightingale among the Crimeans', but the careful Part Two: Performance 45 attention to costuming made for one shocking effect: Cassie's appearance in civilian clothes after Othello has cashiered him.

The earlier passage offers Iago a rehearsal for the much longer scene where convincing Othello will require more time, more subtlety, and infinitely greater care. The great depth of Othello's passion and his violent demands for proofshake Iago, and at various times he is forced to backtrack, hesitate, keep silent, and try different tacks before he achieves his goal. Roderigo is, of course, a parody of Othello; but with both men Iago employs fundamentally the same techniques, making them believe how little they know of the 'real' world, of women in particular, shaming them into thinking that they are not acting like men , and always speaking enough of the truth so that his distortions ofit are not immediately apparent.

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