Othello

Presented by Artscape

Playwright: William Shakespeare

Direction: Fred Abrahamse

Set & Costume Design: Marcel Meyer

Lighting Design: Faheem Bardien

Soundscape: Charl-Johan Lingenfelder

Photography: Fiona MacPherson, Pat Bromilow-Downing & Bronwyn Lloyd

2015 Cast: Muntu Ngubane, Marcel Meyer, Malissa Haiden, Stephen Jubber, Nicole Holm, Nicholas Dallas, Faniswa Yisa, Siya Sikawuti, Robin Smith, Daniel Richards

2011 Cast: Pope Jerrod, Marcel Meyer, Melissa Haiden, Stephen Jubber, Lee-Ann van Rooi, Matthew Baldwin, Faniswa Yisa, Siya Sikawuti, Robin Smith, Daniel Richards

Venue: Maynardville Open-Air Theatre

Dates: 14 January- 21 February 2015 │ 23 January – 23 February 2016

About: A historic production of Shakespeare’s great tragedy. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre, Abrahamse & Meyer created a new production of Othello that was significant for being the first production of Othello at Maynardville starring a black South African actor in the title role.

In Maynardville’s almost 60-year history, Othello was previously presented three times. The first production was directed by Leonard Schach in 1970 and starred visiting British actor, Bernard Brown as Othello. The play was next staged in 1982 in a highly controversial production starring British acting legend, Sir Robert Stephens as Othello under Roy Sargeant’s direction and most recently Keith Grenville’s 2001 staging starred British born Nigerian actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim as Othello.

Of all Shakespeare’s plays, Othello resonates deeply within a South African context with its themes of racism, jealousy, passion, obsession and betrayal.

The production proved so popular it played a return season the following year.

What the Press said:

“Perfection…One of the top five Shakespeare productions this reviewer has ever seen…a wonderful evening in the theatre.” DIE BURGER

“The Abrahamse/Meyer partnership is renowned for staging award-winning epic productions in Cape Town and for good reason – a show produced by this dynamic duo is bound to be done with flair and finesse, and this is once again the case with Othello.” – THEATRE SCENE, CAPE TOWN

 

“Helmed by the A-team of Fred Abrahamse [director] and Charl-Johan Lingenfelder [composer], with gorgeous costumes by the multi-talented Marcel Meyer who also plays Iago - Shakespeare at Maynardville is another of those quintessential Cape Town activities you should do at least once in your lifetime.” – THE WEEKEND ARGUS

 

“This production is a triumph. Muntu Ngubane is a head-turning, shimmering, pitch-black Adonis towering over the stage like some god. He is brilliant as Othello; his whole body becomes the Moor, each movement a celebration of Shakespearean gravitas with all its tragedy and turmoil. Marcel Meyer as Iago is menacing, vile and deranged. The cast bounce beautifully off each other, but the raw, gut-wrenching acting of Nicole Holm, as Emilia (Iago's wife), is something to witness. She is regal, imperial – majestic. The costumes by Marcel Meyer are sexy and decadent. The large swaying trees around the stage, with the theatrical lighting, turned the show into something quite surreal and hypnotic. The eerie music by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder is worthy of its own soundtrack. Fred Abrahamse, the director, and his team can take a bow and a few curtain calls to boot.” –THE TIMES

 

“Fred Abrahamse has succeeded in revitalising Othello without deviating too far from the original. Muntu Ngubane, the first South African actor to portray the lead role at Maynardville, fits the bill aesthetically with his imposing Herculean frame and he adds a fresh dimension to the protagonist. We see the full range of Othello’s emotions and his many ‘faces’ from a proud and commanding general and new husband, to his hidden weaknesses – his epilepsy and his volatile jealousy through which he ultimately succumbs to Iago’s manipulative plotting…Ngubane’s performance is mesmerizing. Marcel Meyer is terrific as Shakespeare’s most egregious and existential of vil-lains. Meyer’s Iago is a gloriously mad and grandiloquent figure bursting with unabashed intelligence and resplendence. His rough-edged, Caligulan caprice and jealousy offers the kind of performance that you feel ashamed for enjoying so much. In Meyer’s hands, Iago’s quicksilver fluency makes every speech a lethal instrument, whether he pretends piety or bluff philosophy. As can be expected of such a towering performance, the show becomes slightly less interesting whenever Meyer leaves the stage, so mesmerizing is his Iago. The devil is blessed with all the best tunes, after all. By withholding Emilia’s empathy, Nicole Holm makes the poignant moonlit Willow Song even more profound, highlighting the vulnerability of her character. The rest of the supporting cast form a masterful ensemble, highlighted by the Robin Smith’s comical mannerism, and a garishly amusing Faniswa Yisa as Bianca. This classic story of love and betrayal, of the Noble Moor who rose above his own slavery, only to be undone by the hatreds projected onto his black skin is enough to melt a tyrant’s heart. Audiences can anticipate a tranquil evening filled with intrigue, humour and philosophy with this Shakespeare trailblazer.”  WHATS ON IN CAPE TOWN

 

FLEUR DU CAP THEATRE AWARDS:

Best Costume Design – Marcel Meyer [nomination]

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