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Shakespeare’s “Othello” and Discussion of “The Wife of Willesden.”

After a lively and at times heated discussion of The Wife of Willesden, facilitated by Alicia, we prepared ourselves for the final theater performance of the trip: Shakespeare's play, Othello at the National Theater, near Waterloo station.  As our Theater district guide informed us the day prior to the performance of Othello, the National Theater looks a little more like a "Nuclear Power Station" than a place where one might anticipate seeing live theater. The National Theater is a good example of the "Brutalist" architectural style that emerged in the UK after WWII. It's a very minimalist structure, emphasizing function over design. In many respects, the stage set of this particular production of Othello mimicked a similarly minimalist style. The set featured no soft lines or contours.  Instead, it appeared cold and harsh, with no frills or decorative elements to speak of.

Prior to the start of the production, random dates and images, some of which seemed to be associated with prior productions of Othello, flickered across the stage. This random appearance of dates and years seemed to speak to the timelessness of the story that was about to unfold before us.  It suggested that we were about to witness a series of events that could have occurred at any time and in any place, which seemed to be in keeping with the minimalist set design. 

Students seated at a long table having a discussions

A heated discussion of "The Wife of Willesden," faciliated by Alicia DeCoff.

Scene from production of Othello

The stage set for Othello prior to the performance.  A janitor appears on stage and seems to be mopping up blood from a previous performance of the play with the dates, years, and images from prior productions of Othello flickering behind him.  

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