«EDUCATOR’S GUIDEBOOK Directed by Jon Royal / Costume Design by June Kingsbury Set Design by Morgan Matens / Lighting Design by Anne Willingham ...»
Directed by Jon Royal / Costume Design by June Kingsbury
Set Design by Morgan Matens / Lighting Design by Anne Willingham
Sound Design by Brenton Jones / Fight Choreography by Eric Pasto Crosby
This production is part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, a national program of
the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with Arts Midwest.
Table of Contents
Note from the Education Director, Nettie Kraft Note from the Director, Jon Royal Note from the Artistic Director, Denice Hicks Othello Synopsis by Nettie Kraft Shakespeare at a glance Historical Context: Eliza & James by Hugh Inman Shakespeare’s Ups and Downs by Dr. Ann Jennalie Cook Classroom Activities Discussion Ideas and Questions PTSD by Casey Flyth Child Soldiers by Annalise Maker Design and Activities Othello in Performance by Dr. Ann Jennalie Cook Additional Teacher Resources Directions to the Troutt Theater Apprentice Company Training Sponsor Page Locus of Control Worksheet Project Menu Common Core Standards Note from the Education Director Hello!
I am so excited to welcome you into our 26th season at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival. This year’s production of Othello at the Troutt Theater on the campus of Belmont University should prove to be a wonderful theatrical experience.
This guidebook is to help teachers and students with classroom instruction and generate a healthy curiosity about Shakespeare, the process of theatre, and this play in particular. You will find a synopsis, historical information, lesson plans, links to additional resources such as videos and books, a map to the theater, and explanations of various design and directorial choices for Othello. Whether your class is just beginning to read Othello or has already finished the play the guidebook serves as a tool to prepare for viewing the work as it was meant to be, on stage, with you in the audience.
If you have any further questions I am always happy to help! To book a workshop or matinee reservation you may reach me at email@example.com.
Enjoy the show!
Nettie Kraft, Education Director Note from the Director In this very dangerous world that we live in, the dangers that we face aren’t always clear to us on an everyday basis. We depend on a strong military force to fight for our interests abroad, and defend the home-front when necessary. We equip, train, and deploy, our best and brightest, to ensure that our everyday lives continue without a hitch. We rest easier, with a sense of security, trusting that our protectors will do their duty, and uphold the ideals of our culture.
The Venice of Shakespeare’s Othello is not so different from our world. When I step into this Venice that the Moor, Iago, and Desdemona live in, I’m dogged by many questions, but the most important being; what happens to the protectors, after dedicating their lives to service? Soldiers aren’t only defending the land, property, and tangible holdings of the nation that deploys them, but also the hopes and dreams of its citizens. I’m drawn to this play in which everyone has their own idea of Paradise that they hope to secure, hang onto, and defend with all they are. Othello seeks a relationship, and kind of love that he’s never known, after spending his entire life as a weapon for others. He has no idea what a high price he has paid over the course of his life. I can’t help asking myself, do I? Soldiers are taught to constantly be at the ready. What happens when there is no real threat? What happens when the everyday pieces and events of a person’s life, are perceived as danger? Sadly, in my view, I think we have to include the toll of that damage, with all of its consequences, onto our ticket for paradise.
Jon Royal, DirectorNote from the Artistic DirectorGreetings,
The Nashville Shakespeare Festival deeply appreciates your partnership for our seventh annual Winter Shakespeare production. We are thrilled to return to our winter home in the beautiful Troutt Theater on the campus of Belmont University, and are very excited about sharing this exciting production of Othello with you and your students.
The Nashville Shakespeare Festival is dedicated to keeping Shakespeare’s works alive and relevant in a society that struggles with meaningful communication and inconsequential entertainment options. We hope that our production of Othello offers you and your students a deeper appreciation for Shakespeare’s relevance in the 21st century and his power to write a historical and political play that rings true even to this day.
Othello is a terribly sad play. Iago’s motivation for ruining lives is as mysterious to me as the motivations for the current spate of mass shootings. In a world where innocence is vulnerable to indiscriminate and irrational violence, a play like Othello is always relevant. I hope that Othello will offer some great fodder for in depth discussions of honor, loyalty, and acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
Thank you for teaching the works of William Shakespeare. I hope the rewards are greater than the challenges. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the production, your matinee, or workshop reservation, please do not hesitate to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org Enjoy the show!
In Venice the Duke and Senators discuss the plan against the Turks in Cypress agreeing Othello should lead the battle. Even though Iago has served well Othello has chosen Cassio to be his Lieutenant. Roderigo and Iago wake Desdemona’s father Brabantio, scaring him with news of Othello and Desdemona together. Brabantio summons his guards and leaves to hunt down the lovers. Iago finds Othello at home and pretends to have defended him against Brabantio. Cassio summons Othello to see the Duke. Brabantio and his men enter and a fight begins. Brabantio demands they go to the Duke. The Duke asks for an explanation. Othello tells of how he and Desdemona fell in love. Her father swears if Desdemona was a willing participant he will give her to Othello. Desdemona arrives, confesses her love, and tells of their marriage. The Duke appoints Othello to run the war and Desdemona is allowed to follow him to Cypress. Iago urges Roderigo to follow the troops where he swears Desdemona will soon be sick of Othello and he will have his chance. Iago reiterates his hatred of Othello and vows to use Othello’s gullibility to make him suspect Cassio and Desdemona of being lovers. On Cypress a storm at sea destroys the Turkish warships. All worry that Othello is dead. Iago witnesses Cassio’s familiar behavior with Desdemona. Othello lands and the happy couple reunite. Iago incenses Roderigo with talk of Desdemona’s love for Cassio convincing him to start a fight later. While on guard duty Iago gets Cassio drunk and provokes the fight between him and Roderigo. Othello demands to know who started it. Cassio is framed and Othello demotes him. Iago comforts Cassio, suggesting he ask for Desdemona’s help with Othello. Roderigo threatens to go back to Venice but Iago convinces him to stay. Desdemona agrees to help and her pleas for Cassio help Iago plant doubt in Othello’s mind. Othello claims to have a headache but when Desdemona attempts to ease his pain with her handkerchief he pushes it aside and it drops to the floor unnoticed. Emilia finds the handkerchief and gives it to Iago. Iago schemes to plant it in Cassio’s house and trick Othello. Othello, tortured with jealousy and doubt, demands Iago prove Desdemona’s betrayal or suffer the consequences.
Iago lies to Othello about Cassio possessing the handkerchief. Othello flies into a rage, vowing revenge and Iago swears to help him kill Cassio and Desdemona. Desdemona worries over the lost handkerchief and Emilia claims ignorance. Desdemona informs Othello she has summoned Cassio to speak with him. Othello asks for her handkerchief but she lies and claims it isn’t lost.
ACT II Desdemona and Emilia discuss Othello’s strange behavior, Emilia contending it is jealousy.
Cassio asks his girlfriend Bianca to make a copy of the handkerchief mysteriously found in his room. Iago bids Othello to hide and overhear their conversation. Othello believes the talk of Bianca is about Desdemona. Bianca returns with the handkerchief, jealous. Othello thinks he has proof of Desdemona’s betrayal and decides to strangle her. Iago vows to kill Cassio. Lodovico delivers a letter to Othello summoning him to Venice and replacing him with Cassio. Desdemona’s happiness for Cassio provokes Othello to strike her and Lodovico questions Othello’s sanity.
Emilia suggests someone has framed Desdemona. Desdemona begs for Iago’s help. Roderigo and Iago agree to murder Cassio. Othello commands Desdemona to get ready for bed and dismiss Emilia. Later, Roderigo and Iago jump Cassio, wounding him. Othello thinks him dead and goes to murder his wife. Othello tells Desdemona he means to kill her and she begs for her life. He smothers her. Emilia discovers Desdemona. Othello admits to killing his wife because of what Iago said. Emilia calls Othello a murderer and confronts Iago with his lies. Iago stabs his wife and runs out, Othello is disarmed, and Emilia dies. Iago is caught and Othello kills himself.
Shakespeare at a glance 1558 Queen Elizabeth I takes the throne April 23rd, 1564 William Shakespeare was born. He spent his early years in Stratfordupon-Avon where he attended school until age 14
Though the most popular and successful playwright of his day, William Shakespeare did not always bask in public acclaim. In fact, the survival of his reputation through the past four centuries was by no means certain. The publication of the First Folio in 1623 saved about half his plays that had never seen the dark of print, but when the Commonwealth closed all theaters from 1642 until 1660, few if any people saw his work on stage.
Even when performances resumed, actors felt free to cut scenes, add or omit characters, and change the plot. The public watched Nahum Tate’s King Lear come to a happy ending, and Henry Purcell turned The Tempest into a musical after John Dryden and William Davenant had both re-written it. Some famous performers could make a version temporarily popular, as David Garrick did with his Richard III, but he acted The Winter’s Tale without three of its five acts. Meanwhile, the growing taste for classical principles among intellectuals led them to deplore the playwright’s presumed irregularities of writing style.
Ironically, the Romantics of the period raised Shakespeare’s reputation, but not as a playwright. For them, he was a poet to be read rather than seen. Charles Lamb declared King Lear “essentially impossible to be represented on a stage.” Publishers began to print new editions, many with gorgeous engravings, and found them extremely profitable. Volumes of the plays became an essential part of any cultured family’s library. Even in small towns, groups of readers formed to read, discuss, and declaim passages from Shakespeare.
When literature finally entered the curriculum as a subject worthy of teaching, every student eventually encountered at least a few of the best-known plays. The reverence for Shakespeare the poet ensured his fame while dooming him to dislike and dread among most who had to study him in school. The emergence of complex literary interpretations at the university level spread to classrooms at the secondary level, further alienating pupils from “the world’s greatest writer.” It has taken almost a century to return Shakespeare to his roots. In the early 1900s, directors began working from the original texts. Audiences responded enthusiastically to theaters like the Old Vic and the Royal Shakespeare Company in England. On this side of the Atlantic, the Shakespeare Festivals in Ashland, OR, Stratford, ONT, and New York City have grown steadily since the midcentury. Other performing groups devoted primarily to Shakespeare have sprung up throughout the country, including the one here in Nashville. The reconstructed Globe in London and, nearer home, the Blackfriars in Staunton, VA, delight viewers with plays performed on stages from the Elizabethan and Jacobean period. So many other countries have appropriated Shakespeare that scarcely a moment goes by on any day of the year without multiple productions in progress. Indeed, more people now see these works than all the earlier spectators combined.
The year 1603 brought great changes to the lives of all English citizens, none more so than William Shakespeare himself. In March of that year Queen Elizabeth I died, ending a fortyfour year reign. Over one thousand attended her funeral, and tens of thousands lined the streets to view her funeral procession. Historian John Stowe wrote that her mourners raised "such a general sighing, groaning and weeping as the like hath not been seen or known in the memory of man." One wonders if William Shakespeare was among the mourners who attended the service or lined the streets. One thing is certain. It was a time of sadness and uncertainty for the playwright, whose rising star had still not reached its zenith. Elizabeth I had been a loyal patron of Shakespeare and his company of actors, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men.
During the last ten years of her reign, they had performed at court thirty-two times, compared to thirty-seven performances by all other companies combined. Now a new monarch was on the throne, this time a king, not from England, but Scotland.
James VI of Scotland had been king since the age of thirteen months when his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, was beheaded in the Tower of London on orders from her cousin Elizabeth (yes, Good Queen Bess). During the last years before her death, Queen Elizabeth had sent several companies of actors to Scotland, probably as a gesture of goodwill. By all accounts, King James was greatly pleased with them. Although there is no concrete evidence that Shakespeare traveled to Scotland, it is likely that he journeyed there with some of the players with which he was associated between 1599 and 1600 to lay the groundwork for the likely king’s acceptance. King James ascended to the throne of England in May 1603 as James I, and one of his first acts was to grant Shakespeare and others a license to perform in London at the Globe theatre. The acting company now called themselves The King's Players, and later The King’s Men.