UVU presents Shakespeare’s classic play ‘Othello’

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UVU presents Shakespeare’s “Othello” with three-time Fulbright Scholar Baron Kelly starring until Oct. 1 as part of its presidential summer reading series.

Kelly, a professional actor who teaches Shakespearean Acting and Acting for TV and Film at UVU, was recommended to director and UVU Theatre Department Chair James Arrington by Kathryn Ervin. Ervin, Theatre Department chair at Cal State San Bernardino, recommended Kelly because of her relationship with him as members of the Black Theatre Association.

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UVU is presenting “Othello.”
“He concentrates on the process, not the result,” said a student of Kelly’s in a UVU news release. Kelly has acted and taught across the globe, and recently served with the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C.

Kelly, who has played Othello before, said the conception of the production is Arrington’s choice.

“The thing I’ve told James is I’m more interested in showing the human being than all the sound and fury, and he agreed. The result is gripping theatre,” said Kelly in the news release.

UVU President Matthew Holland selected “Othello” for the freshman reading series, which is aimed at engaging incoming freshmen in meaningful discussion about complex issues in the classics.”

“[‘Othello’] has very powerful themes,” Holland said. ” ‘Othello’ has revenge and jealousy and the racial component. He is an outsider who has made his way into levels of trust. He is the subject of intense and profound questions.”

The play tells the story of Othello, a black moor who is a an admiral in the Venetian military. He marries Desdemona (Natalie Devine Riskas) despite her family’s objections, and goes on a military campaign to Cyprus. Meanwhile, the crafty Iago (Barrett Ogden), jealous of Othello’s position, devises a way to revenge himself on all those above him, including Michael Cassio (William Cooper Howell), Othello’s lieutenant, and Rodrigo (Greg Larsen), the man who was likely to marry Desdemona before she and Othello fell in love. Iago leads Othello to believe that Desdemona is unfaithful, and Othello resolves to kill Desdemona in her sleep.

Arrington chose to stage the classic tragedy in WWII Italy. The production program points out that when Shakespeare wrote “Othello,” the battles portrayed were 50-60 years ago, about as old as WWII is in relation to modern times.

“The WWII setting,” Arrington explained in the news release, “is to bring the meaning of the piece forward to our day. It’s not just a moral tale like Aesop’s fables. Real people get themselves entwined in desperate circumstances and face their own humanity — Shakespeare is always powerful medicine.”

The show starts at 5:30 p.m. in the UVU student courtyard.

“The show will begin in the late afternoon to early evening, much like a real Shakespearean work would have been done,” Arrington said. “It takes a little more effort to make this show, but with our fabulous cast it will be well worth it.”

Dan Garner, a UVU student who attended the play Sept. 22, was pleased with the performance.

“I love the fact that it’s, I guess about where it’s done — kind of the feel of an old Greek theater, doing it outside in a courtyard in this type of environment,” Garner said.

Garner was deeply impressed by the tragic nature of the play.

“Tragedies, you never know what to think when you come out,” Garner said.  “You definitely learned a lot but you never really feel great. But I think that’s the purpose of the whole play.”

Hailey Walker, a linguistics major from Allen, Texas, has seen a film of “Othello” and was pleased with the live performance on Sept. 22.

“I thought that bringing in a guest actor was a nice touch,” Walker said.

The play is going on until Oct. 1. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at http://uvu.edu/theatre.

 

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