The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

A modern take on Shakespeare’s Othello

Tuesday, 10 May 2022, 09:04 Last update: about 3 months ago

Shakespeare’s timeless tale of jealousy and deception will be revisited at Teatru Manoel under Ian Moore’s direction.

Ian Moore
Ian Moore

With 38 years of directing experience under his belt, award-winning playwright, director and producer Ian Moore is no stranger to the magic of Shakespeare. Throughout his career, he directed many of The Bard's plays, including Hamlet, King Lear, Twelfth Night, and Romeo and Juliet.

"The noted Elizabethan playwright Ben Johnson famously wrote that Shakespeare was 'not of an age, but [a man] for all time'", Moore points out. "The various stagings of the 39 plays within The Bard's canon are proof that his work can take many shapes and forms. Throughout the decades, we have seen a retelling of The Tempest in the sci-fi film The Forbidden Planet, the hit musical West Side Story, which is inspired by Romeo and Juliet, Kurosowa's Throne of Blood, which is a Japanese Macbeth, and various other reworkings and reimaginings. Shakespeare's plays have stood the test of time and will do so for centuries to come."

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Audiences in Malta will soon be able to enjoy the latest reworking of one of Shakespeare's best-known tragedies. Othello, produced by Teatru Manoel, has been abridged by Moore, who will also direct it. "Teatru Manoel's Othello takes the original story of an oncoming conflict between Italy and Turkey and reimagines it for a contemporary audience," Moore explains. "It is set in a brutal, vociferous, hard-hitting modern-day environment, but stays true to the original text."

Although Shakespeare's work is widely considered to be timeless, the sensibilities of  modern audiences are different from the ones of the playwright's contemporaries, so some changes were made. "In re-setting the text to a modern environment, it was essential to give it room to breathe without the encumbrance of lush costumes or sets," shares Moore. "Otherwise, apart from an extensive edit, the production is true to the original. Abridging it was important since the original runs at around three and a half hours, which for the majority of modern audiences is not palatable. So we developed a world of intrigue, conspiracy, and pain in what is essentially Shakespeare's nod to modern day soap operas whilst staying true to the narrative."

Whoever is familiar with Othello will know that Iago, rather than Othello himself, is the linchpin of the play. This will be reflected in Moore's staging at Teatru Manoel, with Edward Caruana Galizia's Iago bringing about his own downfall and that of Shawn John's Othello. "It has been a long-held argument that the piece should really be called Iago," says Moore. "He is the central character around which everything hinges - he is the main drive of the story, and it is his journey that is the most fascinating. However, for reasons we will never know, the author went with a different title."

As well as focussing on the love story between Othello and Desdemona, Moore also looks at Othello's and Iago's mercenary side. "However, even though there is no doubt about their greed, it is not only the two who are mercenary," clarifies Moore. "The environment within which they find themselves is brutal and unforgiving, as are the rest of the characters."

"We are really looking forward to this version of Othello at Teatru Manoel," says Massimo Zammit, the theatre's CEO. "Under Moore's direction, this Othello promises to be an action-packed production that will give audiences a fresh look at the different facets of a story we all think we know well."


Othello will take place on 13, 14 and 15 May 2022 at Teatru Manoel, Valletta, with a Public Dress Rehearsal on 12 May. Tickets can be purchased at booking.teatrumanoel.com.mt. For further information, visit teatrumanoel.mt.

 


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