NEW YORK CITY: Red Bull Theater has announced Othello 2020, a multi-program initiative presented as part of its 2020-21 season which will explore the Shakespeare play and the current state of the world.
“All of us at Red Bull are excited to deepen our exploration and understanding of the intersection of race and classical theatre,” said artistic director Jesse Berger in a statement. “This October, with Shakespeare’s Othello as our launching point, we invite audiences to take a deep dive into these issues as we examine them from a variety of perspectives over the course of four key projects. Together, we’ll ask, ‘What does Othello mean for us in 2020?'”
The programming will begin on Oct. 5 with a RemarkaBULL Podversation with actor Patrick Page called “I hate the Moor.” This informal, livestreamed conversation is hosted by associate artistic director Nathan Winkelstein will focus on Iago’s speech from the first act of the play. Page will read from the play and discuss his approach to the text and character.
Next up will be Exploring Othello in 2020 (Oct. 7, 14, 21, and 28), a seminar series that will bring together a group of BIPOC artists to read and discuss the play with Shakespeare scholar Ayanna Thompson. Participating artists include Keith Hamilton Cobb, Franchelle Stewart Dorn, Jennifer Ikeda, Anchuli Felicia King, Harry Lennix, Madeline Sayet, Jessika D. Williams, and more. The discussions will stream live, but advance registration is required.
Following will be a benefit reading of Keith Hamilton Cobb’s American Moor (Oct. 12), a play that takes audiences into the audition room as an African American actor is met with the demands of a white director who presumes to better understand Shakespeare’s iconic Black character. A post-performance interactive discussion will be held on Oct. 15.
The programming concludes with a benefit reading of Keene (Oct. 19), by Anchuli Felicia King, presented in association with American Shakespeare Center. A playful riff on Othello and early-career academia, the play follows Tyler, a Ph.D. student studying Ira Aldridge, the first Black man to play Othello, and the inevitable betrayal of his closest ally, Kai, a Japanese musicologist. An interactive discussion will be held on Oct. 22.
“All of us at Red Bull Theater are committed to working actively to help realize a more just American theatre,” said managing director Jim Bredeson in a statement. “Othello 2020 is part of our ongoing commitment to racial justice and ensuring that our theatre is a home for all. This initiative is a starting point for our renewed and refocused efforts in this area. We look forward to continuing these conversations as we learn more about the intersection of classical theatre and race.”
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