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Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Audience Comments on *Othello*


An absorbing performance of an eerily fascinating play. As usual, Bob Hall has captured the essence, the feel of it -- I love how he is original and totally true to Shakespeare at the same time.

My 15-year old godson enjoyed Othello. I think he did a great job of summing up the plot when, after the scene where Emilia realizes she's been duped into giving up the handkerchief and Iago's plot is revealed, he turned to me and whispered, "Busted!"



We continue tonight! Only four shows remain!
Thursday-Sunday, October 20-23
Lincoln Community Playhouse

2500 S. 56th Street
Call 402-473-2897 now!

Photo: William Bryant as Othello, Amy Jirsa as Desdemona, and Mary Douglass as Emilia in the Flatwater Shakespeare Company production of Othello. Photo Credit: John Nollendorfs.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cassio's Shame


"O, I have lost my reputation."

Cassio, after being dismissed as Othello's Lieutenant.

The Flatwater Shakespeare Company production of Othello, directed by Bob Hall, continues tonight, October 16, and Thursday through Sunday, October 20-23, at the Lincoln Community Playhouse, 56th and Normal.

Call 402-473-2897 to reserve seats!

Photo: Cory Misek as Cassio in Flatwater Shakespeare's Othello. Photo Credit: John Nollendorfs.

Chaos Is Come Again


"It is not words that shakes me thus."

Othello, unnerved by the supposed concern of Iago.

The Flatwater Shakespeare Company production of Othello, directed by Bob Hall, continues tonight, October 16, and Thursday through Sunday, October 20-23, at the Lincoln Community Playhouse, 56th and Normal.

Call 402-473-2897 to reserve seats!

Photo: Brad Boesen as Iago and William Bryant as Othello in Flatwater Shakespeare's Othello. Photo Credit: John Nollendorfs.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Desdemona's Despair


"I cannot weep; nor answer have I none." -- Desdemona, comforted by Emilia, after Othello's bitter accusations against her.
Seven performances left: tonight, October 14; continuing October 15-16, 20-23. Lincoln Community Playhouse, 56th and Normal.
Call 402-473-2897 now!
Photo: Amy Jirsa as Desdemona and Mary Douglass as Emilia in Flatwater Shakespeare's Othello. Photo Credit: John Nollendorfs.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

*Othello*'s "Powerhouse Cast" -- delivering "Sweat, Blood, and Steel"


by Ladd Wendelin, Star City Blog

“Words are words,” remarks Brabantio (Sibley) in the opening scenes of Flatwater Shakespeare’s production of Othello, which runs now through Oct. 23rd at the Lincoln Community Playhouse (56th and Normal). “I never yet did hear / That the bruised heart was pierced through the ear.”

This is also, in part, what Flatwater Shakespeare and director Bob Hall are consistently great at when it comes to the Bard in Lincoln - their rewarding interpretation of the text, brought to life by top-tier local talent and artisans, masterfully exploits the deeper themes in a manner that is not only enjoyable and entertaining, but accessible to a diverse audience of all ages.

Such was the case Saturday night, with Brad Boesen (Iago) and William Bryant (Othello) leading a powerhouse cast through the sweat, blood and steel of one of Shakespeare’s truly heartbreaking tragedies, fraught with unauthorized love, blind vengeance, and brief candles. With Flatwater, the focus has always been on the performers – or rather their characters – and Shakespeare’s glorious way with words. Hall dresses the stage modestly with a minimum of set pieces to create a concentrated and at times intense production that, even when it loses momentum, is quick to pick up steam and regain the audience’s undivided attention.

Bryant and Boesen are at the heart of the show, and their portrayals of the imposing Moor and his devious military underling complement each other nicely, providing a good contrast that makes the charges of infidelity all the more severe. Bryant isn’t seen on the stage often, but his performance as Othello is a rare treat - as a sincere, unpretentious, ruthless and ultimately gullible tragic figure. Most importantly, his Othello is utterly convincing.

Boesen, meanwhile, assumes the role of the villainous Iago who deftly pits himself against Othello’s authority by convincing him that his young bride, Desdemona (the welcome return of a radiant, well-spoken Amy Jirsa), has been fooling around with Cassio (Cory Misek). As Othello struts and frets his hour (or three, with intermission) on the stage, Boesen plays his Iago with cool eloquence and unassuming poise. Previously seen as the crafty Richard III, Boesen is no stranger to the subtleties and shades of Shakespeare’s most wily villains, and his experience with the type shows. Despite being one of only four females in the cast, Mary Douglass’ Emilia (along with Noelle Bohaty’s Bianca and Marie Barrett’s Woman of Cyprus) burns red hot when Iago’s scheme is revealed in Act V.

It might be safe to assume that set designer Robert Hillestad (who received production assistance from Dustin Witte) took their inspiration from Iago’s line in Act II, Scene 3, “So I will turn her virtue into pitch, / And out of her own goodness make the net / That shall enmesh them all.” To fill the space, Hillestad and Witte have draped multi-colored netting, tattered rope and yarn across the ceiling like traps baited and set, which effectively suggests the unraveling action taking place onstage.

Flatwater Shakespeare and Bob Hall close out another quality season with a tightly-knit Othello, featuring excellent performances from Bryant and Boesen, and minimalistic, yet no less inspired, production values from Hillestad and Witte.

Othello runs October 6th – 23rd, with performances every Thurs. – Sun. at 7:30 p.m., Lincoln Community Playhouse Family Theatre (56th and Normal). Ticket prices are $18 for Adults, $15 for Seniors, Students for $10. Tickets can be reserved by calling 402-473-2897.

Photo: Amy Jirsa as Desdemona and William Bryant as Othello are observed by Brad Boesen as Iago in the Flatwater Shakespeare Company production of Othello. Photo Credit: John Nollendorfs.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Othello, Desdemona, Such Sweet Thunder


Shakespeare’s Othello has inspired numerous artists – as well as audiences – over the centuries and to the present day. Most recently, Nobel Prize Laureate Toni Morrison has collaborated with singer-songwriter Rokia Traore and director Peter Sellars on Desdemona, a work that focuses on the relationship between that character and Barbary, her mother’s African maid.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeWN71gokhU


In this clip, Sellars discusses the genesis of the piece, which is currently touring.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8QBZttCFf4

Sellars talks about Morrison wanting to tell Othello’s stories to Desdemona more expansively than the summary Othello gives to the Venetian Senate. Those stories had already been told – purely in music – by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn in their composition “Such Sweet Thunder.” The soloist is Ray Nance (not Clark Terry, as stated in the clip).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeGtdRz-bkA


Such Sweet Thunder is also the name of the Shakespearean suite (note the pun) the piece begins. The above clip ends with “Sonnet for Hank Cinq,” which is inspired by the character of Henry the Fifth and is structured like a Shakespearean sonnet, with fourteen melodic lines of ten notes each, organized in three sets of four (quatrains) and a concluding couplet. The soloist is Britt Woodman.

Flatwater Shakespeare’s Education Director, Steve Buhler, has written about Such Sweet Thunder in the online journal Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation.

http://www.borrowers.uga.edu/cocoon/borrowers/request?id=781406

In the Sellars interview, the director insists that Shakespeare could not have encountered any black people in his community. Professor Imtiaz Habib of Old Dominion University has demonstrated not only that there were blacks in Early Modern England (Queen Elizabeth I would not have twice – unsuccessfully – have ordered their expulsion if none lived there) but that some of them lived in the South Bank parishes adjacent to many London theaters. Habib’s *Black Lives in the English Archives, 1500-1677* is an important step in recovering this forgotten (and suppressed) history.

The Flatwater Shakespeare Company production of Othello, directed by Bob Hall, continues this weekend and for two additional weekends in the Lincoln Community Playhouse Family Theatre, 2500 S. 56th Street.

Performances are Friday-Sunday, October 7-9, and Thursday-Sunday, October 13-16 and 20-23. Show time is 7:30 p.m.

Ticket prices are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students. Group rates are also available.

Call 402-473-2897 for reservations.