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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,sun theater critic | January 17, 2007
A saucily corseted stage manager enters down the center aisle, flourishes a handkerchief and then drops it on the floor. That's the bold beginning of Desdemona, A Play About a Handkerchief at the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival. Between scenes, we hear the stage manager's voice calling lighting cues as three female stagehands come on stage, adding or subtracting props. Focusing this much attention on the folks behind the scenes is a little unconventional, but then, Paula Vogel's revisionist look at Shakespeare's Othello is a lot unconventional.
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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,sun theater critic | January 17, 2007
A saucily corseted stage manager enters down the center aisle, flourishes a handkerchief and then drops it on the floor. That's the bold beginning of Desdemona, A Play About a Handkerchief at the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival. Between scenes, we hear the stage manager's voice calling lighting cues as three female stagehands come on stage, adding or subtracting props. Focusing this much attention on the folks behind the scenes is a little unconventional, but then, Paula Vogel's revisionist look at Shakespeare's Othello is a lot unconventional.
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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | November 19, 1997
Using a concept devised by lead actor Patrick Stewart, the radical interpretation of "Othello" at Washington's Shakespeare Theatre flips the racial makeup of the cast, posing a white Othello opposite an almost entirely African-American company.Described by director Jude Kelly as a "photo negative," this rethinking is one of several bold and largely successful choices in a production that also features an increased emphasis on abuse against women. Combined with Stewart's strong showing in the title role, this "Othello" would be a landmark if it weren't marred by a weak co-star.
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By J. WYNN ROUSUCK and J. WYNN ROUSUCK,SUN THEATER CRITIC | October 2, 2005
If Kleenex had existed, the tragedy might not have happened. The tragedy is Shakespeare's "Othello," and the plot turns on a handkerchief. The title character gives an heirloom hanky to his bride, Desdemona. She loses this gift. It falls into the wrong hands. Othello becomes convinced his wife is unfaithful, and his jealousy spirals out of control. Few objects in the Shakespearean canon play as prominent a role as this silk square, "spotted with strawberries" and with "magic in the web of it," according to the script, which mentions the word "handkerchief" almost 30 times.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | March 11, 2004
Although there's no shortage of pubs in Fells Point, a new one has cropped up. This latest is on the stage of the Vagabond Players. Patrons can't order a beer there, but they can watch the cast of Conor McPherson's play, The Weir, knock back more than a few. The drama, which was produced on Broadway in 1999, revels in the art of Irish storytelling. Indeed, the thin plot is little more than an excuse for spinning tall tales. (The title means "dam," and this play opens up a floodgate of stories.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | September 8, 2005
Washington's Shakespeare Theatre Company has produced Othello three times in the past 15 years. What the theater hasn't done with Shakespeare's tale of racism, jealousy and betrayal is cast it traditionally - until now. In 1997, Othello was played by a white actor (Patrick Stewart) and the rest of the cast was black; in 1990, Othello and villainous Iago were both played by black actors (Avery Brooks and Andre Braugher, respectively). This time around, Brooks is reprising the title role, but as is standard modern practice, Iago is played by a white actor (Patrick Page)
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | October 8, 2003
The Baltimore Shakespeare Festival has inaugurated its new home, a church, with a play that besmirches much that is holy. This contrast between setting and subject matter sharply heightens the conflict between goodness and evil, innocence and corruption, that is at the core of one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies, Othello. Besides introducing its permanent home in Hampden, the production also marks another significant turning point for the company - its first major contract with Actors' Equity, the professional actors' union, since the festival nearly foundered in 1998.
NEWS
By MARY JOHNSON and MARY JOHNSON,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | September 30, 2005
The idea for presenting Othello at St. John's College in Annapolis started in a series of conversations among tutors and students with a strong interest in theater. William Shakespeare's domestic tragedy is "particularly action oriented about the character Iago, who never met a man who knew how to love himself," said senior Brian Jones, a first-time director. "That's what the play is about." Angry that Moor warrior Othello chose Cassio over him as his lieutenant, Iago propels the action by manipulating character against character.
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By J. Wynn Rousuck | December 5, 1990
Washington---As recently as Paul Robeson's day, it was considered daring to cast a black actor in the title role of Shakespeare's "Othello." That practice is virtually the norm today. But at the Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger, director Harold Scott has added another twist -- he has also cast a black actor as Iago, the trusted ensign who incites the Moor's fatal jealousy.It is an inspired choice, and not merely because of Andre Braugher's carefully calculated performance as Iago. One problem with this great tragedy is that it's difficult to understand why Iago succeeds so rapidly in convincing Othello -- a military general who is presumably a good judge of character -- that his young Venetian bride, Desdemona, has been unfaithful.
NEWS
By J. WYNN ROUSUCK and J. WYNN ROUSUCK,SUN THEATER CRITIC | October 2, 2005
If Kleenex had existed, the tragedy might not have happened. The tragedy is Shakespeare's "Othello," and the plot turns on a handkerchief. The title character gives an heirloom hanky to his bride, Desdemona. She loses this gift. It falls into the wrong hands. Othello becomes convinced his wife is unfaithful, and his jealousy spirals out of control. Few objects in the Shakespearean canon play as prominent a role as this silk square, "spotted with strawberries" and with "magic in the web of it," according to the script, which mentions the word "handkerchief" almost 30 times.
NEWS
By MARY JOHNSON and MARY JOHNSON,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | September 30, 2005
The idea for presenting Othello at St. John's College in Annapolis started in a series of conversations among tutors and students with a strong interest in theater. William Shakespeare's domestic tragedy is "particularly action oriented about the character Iago, who never met a man who knew how to love himself," said senior Brian Jones, a first-time director. "That's what the play is about." Angry that Moor warrior Othello chose Cassio over him as his lieutenant, Iago propels the action by manipulating character against character.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | September 8, 2005
Washington's Shakespeare Theatre Company has produced Othello three times in the past 15 years. What the theater hasn't done with Shakespeare's tale of racism, jealousy and betrayal is cast it traditionally - until now. In 1997, Othello was played by a white actor (Patrick Stewart) and the rest of the cast was black; in 1990, Othello and villainous Iago were both played by black actors (Avery Brooks and Andre Braugher, respectively). This time around, Brooks is reprising the title role, but as is standard modern practice, Iago is played by a white actor (Patrick Page)
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | March 11, 2004
Although there's no shortage of pubs in Fells Point, a new one has cropped up. This latest is on the stage of the Vagabond Players. Patrons can't order a beer there, but they can watch the cast of Conor McPherson's play, The Weir, knock back more than a few. The drama, which was produced on Broadway in 1999, revels in the art of Irish storytelling. Indeed, the thin plot is little more than an excuse for spinning tall tales. (The title means "dam," and this play opens up a floodgate of stories.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 4, 2004
Eric Conway recital Eric Conway is one of the busiest - and most gifted - musicians in the Baltimore area. When he isn't teaching piano and music theory at Morgan State University, he's accompanying a soloist or a choir, or playing chamber music, or working as a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra - or making a solo appearance, as he will tonight. Conway will break in a newly acquired grand piano at Villa Julie College with a program that offers works by Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Ravel and Gershwin.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | October 8, 2003
The Baltimore Shakespeare Festival has inaugurated its new home, a church, with a play that besmirches much that is holy. This contrast between setting and subject matter sharply heightens the conflict between goodness and evil, innocence and corruption, that is at the core of one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies, Othello. Besides introducing its permanent home in Hampden, the production also marks another significant turning point for the company - its first major contract with Actors' Equity, the professional actors' union, since the festival nearly foundered in 1998.
ENTERTAINMENT
By J. Wynn Rousuck | April 12, 2001
AXIS Theatre wraps up its season of shows by women with Anne-Marie MacDonald's comedy "Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)." A modern-day woman is plunged into the worlds of "Othello" and "Romeo and Juliet" only to discover that Desdemona and Juliet are considerably different from expectations. Bethany Brown plays Constance, the modern protagonist; Darlene Deardorff is Desdemona and Sharol Buck is Juliet, under Bian Klaas' direction. "Goodnight Desdemona" has a pay-what-you-can preview at 8 p.m. next Wednesday.
ENTERTAINMENT
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,Sun Theater Critic | February 18, 1994
Of Shakespeare's plays, "Othello," with its themes of love, jealousy, lust, betrayal and bigotry, probably hits the most nerves. At Center Stage, director Irene Lewis' production strips those nerves raw.There are several reasons for the production's gut-wrenching effect, beginning with Stephen Markle's relentlessly chilling performance as Iago. In this production, set in the 1950s with the military portrayed as Marines, Markle's Iago is the type of gritty career soldier who excels in war. In peacetime, he is at such a loss that he instigates a battle simply because it's the only way he knows how to function.
ENTERTAINMENT
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,Theater Critic | July 10, 1992
At the beginning of Shakespeare on Wheels' production of "Othello," the actors introduce themselves to the audience and say a few words about their characters. It's a user-friendly approach to Shakespeare, and it is typical of this highly accessible User-friendliness is especially important since Shakespeare on Wheels, the University of Maryland Baltimore County's traveling theater, performs everywhere from parks to prisons and frequently serves as an introduction to the Bard for children and adults alike.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | November 19, 1997
Using a concept devised by lead actor Patrick Stewart, the radical interpretation of "Othello" at Washington's Shakespeare Theatre flips the racial makeup of the cast, posing a white Othello opposite an almost entirely African-American company.Described by director Jude Kelly as a "photo negative," this rethinking is one of several bold and largely successful choices in a production that also features an increased emphasis on abuse against women. Combined with Stewart's strong showing in the title role, this "Othello" would be a landmark if it weren't marred by a weak co-star.
FEATURES
By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,SUN STAFF | January 19, 1996
It's no accident that the four cinematic treatments of Shakespeare that purists love most are Grigori Kozintsev's Russian-language "Hamlet" and "King Lear," and Akira Kurosawa's Japanese fantasias on "Lear" ("Ran") and "Macbeth" Throne of Blood").Without Shakespeare's sacred, inviolable text, we can enjoy these movies without comparisons to the originals. Even the finest English-language film treatments -- Olivier's "Henry V," "Richard III" and "Othello" -- have been subject to mean-spirited quibbling from the Shakespearean Comintern.
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