Iago - Act II, Scene III
And what’s he then that says I play the villain?
When this advice is free I give and honest,
Probably to thinking and indeed the course
To win the Moor again? For ’tis most easy
The inclining Desdemona to subdue
In any honest suit: she’s framed as fruitful
As the free elements. And then for her
To win the Moor—were’t to renounce his baptism,
All seals and symbols of redeemed sin,
His soul is so enfetter’d to her love,
That she may make, unmake, do what she list,
Even as her appetite shall play the god
With his weak function. How am I then a villain
To counsel Cassio to this parallel course,
Directly to his good? Divinity of hell!
When devils will the blackest sins put on,
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,
As I do now: for whiles this honest fool
Plies Desdemona to repair his fortunes
And she for him pleads strongly to the Moor,
I’ll pour this pestilence into his ear,
That she repeals him for her body’s lust;
And by how much she strives to do him good,
She shall undo her credit with the Moor.
So will I turn her virtue into pitch,
And out of her own goodness make the net
That shall enmesh them all.
Iago here is speaking to himself, but could just as easily be speaking to a crowd or a single person. He is speaking about his plan and about Desdemona. Here Iago is trying to rationalize his plan with his conscience, which can transcribed to several audiences by putting emphasis on several sections of the speech, particularly the first half. The actor can show this by putting a questioning spin on the first half of the speech to show that he is talking merely to himself, and a kind of arrogant twist to the first half if he wants to be speaking to an audience. The second half of the speech is where Iago has successfully justified his plan in his mind. This part of the speech is confident and assured. Using hand and body gestures here would increase the drama and add a satisfying surety to Iago’s words. The tone of the speech overall shifts from the first half being unsure and faltering, questioning, to a tone that is encouraged and sure.
Cassio appears in several important scenes. He appears in Act II, Scene III, where Iago plans to get him drunk and to lure him into a fight with Montano. He is not told what Iago’s plan is, obviously, and is successfully tricked. He personally sees that Iago is his “friend” and attempts to drink with him. He takes this as a sign that Iago wants the best for him, when he really is being just as deceitful towards him as Othello. In Act III, Scene II, Cassio talks to Desdemona about getting reinstated and getting his position back. He unwittingly and unwillingly falls right into Iago’s plan. He is told by Iago that the best way to Othello is through Desdemona. If we just concentrated on Cassio’s scenes, Othello, or rather Cassio, would be a tale of frustration and confusion. Cassio does not know what is going on, and has no way to. I think that the story of Cassio is not as interesting as it is frustrating.
When Iago was a young boy, he was diagnosed with leukemia. They could not treat leukemia in those days, so Iago’s mother went to a witch doctor, a Moor. “I can save him. But it will be at a great cost.” Iago’s mother was so determined to save his life that she said she agreed to everything and anything. “Ok,” said the witch doctor, “Let’s begin.” She told them both to lie down next to each other and to relax. She mixed a potion and poured it over Iago and his mother. Suddenly, Iago felt relaxed, he felt calm, he could begin to feel his body recovering, his bones began to strengthen. “Mother, I can feel it working!” he exclaimed. But there was no response. He looked to his right, and saw his mother, cold, no life in her eyes. “NOOO!” he exclaimed dramatically. The price for his life was the life of his own mother. “I’ll kill you! You villainous Moor!” He screamed. From that day on Iago hated all Moors and vowed to be mean to one one day.
The tone of voice, body language, and movements I want to portray Iago as having are those of a villain in power. He is sly, he is demanding, he is confident but sneaky. I think that he holds his chest up high but slouches. He is like a rat, a soldier rat, but a rat still. Iago is not going to have a prop or costume, I think that the body language relays all that I need him to say, and that a costume would distract from this image of Iago. I am however going to bring Othello some props. In our scene has a headache, and I will bring in some “Ye Olde Orange Juice” and some “Ye Olde Aspirin.” Our presentation is going to stand out through a combination of great acting, confidence, and interesting portrayals of each character in their turn. I think that this will be a very fun performance to be involved in. I hate acting, though.
Journal #5 - Post Performance
“I will in Cassio’s lodging lose this napkin. Trifles light as air are, to the jealous heart, confirmations strong as proof or wit.” This line is very important to the play and to our scene. Iago often reveals some plot twist, plan, or scheme of his through lever words and delivery. I think that here Iago is more talking to himself than the audience, but regardless, he is explaining how Othello’s jealousy will cloud his judgement. He is playing on emotions as if they were a harp, using his skill set, (trickery, a sly tongue, and a black heart), to control others. Without this scene in the play, the audience would not understand how Iago’s plan will fit together. He shows us that jealousy is a powerful and dangerous weapon.
I think that our performance went quite well. Although the mechanics were not always there, the flow of the scene went as expected, which is all you can really hope for with lightweight actors such as myself. Will and Penelope did a great job, actually. Their performance was convincing and funny. Tytianna and I did not speak as loudly as we had planned, but we pulled through and finished our scene strongly. If I could do the scene over, I would have remixed it. I imagine Othello as a Rastafarian wielding, chilled out man, Desdemona as a sort of princess, Emilia as a sort of wise and clever maid, and Iago as a sleek, devious type. Seeing as none of this would be probable with our level of experience, I don’t think this would be possible. It would be fun to do, though.
By performing the play and analyzing the characters in order to play a more convincing role, I think my understanding of the play increased ten fold. The character sheet really helped me a lot. That was definitely the most interesting and engaging part of the experience. Performing the play helped me to get inside of Iago’s mind. I had to create motivations and a whole new mindset for myself in order to portray him well. This overall was a very fun and engaging project. You should do it again next year.