As we prepare for another weekend of OTHELLO performances - we'd like to share this excerpt from the Rehearsal Diary of Avery T. Willis from the first day of rehearsal on September 22, 2008.
Dr. Avery T. Willis has collaborated with Peter Sellars as an assistant director and dramaturg since 2006.
September 22, 2008 | In medias res
Our first day digesting this play called Othello. As we navigate the text together during this two-week workshop, we begin to create a collective re-imagining of this highly fraught, deeply feared, and misunderstood text. As each actor begins to absorb the text with Peter’s probing guidance, there is a palpable sense that this particular group at this particular time has the skills and the endurance to actually reclaim Othello from those who still fear black sexuality and still feel that blackness is “other”. A new vision of the world of the play emerges, based on a democratic ideal, like the LAByrinth company itself, in which every voice is counted, and every soul, as Cassio says, is in line to be saved.
In media res. It is the deepest part of night, the birds are strangely awake. A new crisis overseas: the Turkish fleet is bearing fast on Rhodes or could it be Cyprus. Iago gumes with a fresh professional and personal wound. The President paces in the Situation Room, the press gathers outside for an emergency Press Conference. The Staff frantically prepares briefings, others seek out the General. The General is in bed trying to enjoy one uninterrupted night of love with his new wife, a Senator’s daughter. The General is the General now but back in the day he was a White House intern just like Iago and Cassio and Montano. Cassio became a Navy logistician, Iago followed Othello into a military career, and Montano got herself posted to occupied Cyprus. There are no secrets, their lives are so intertwined that they love and hate each other simultaneously. Desdemona enters this world of entangled friends and lovers determined to resurrect love as a heavenly union between two people. But, as she discovers tragically: people are cruelest to the ones they love the most.
Click here to read the full Rehearsal Diary.
OTHELLO Rehearsal Diary © Avery T. Willis and Wiener Festwochen 2009