Performing Othello - Reginald Simmons

Journal one:

(aside) I have rubbed this young quat almost to the sense,

And he grows angry. Now, whether he kill Cassio

Or Cassio him, or each do kill the other,

(Here, Iago should be talking to the audience. After "he grows angry" he looks at the audience with an expression of epiphany on his face. As if he has just made a great discovery. A sly smile should spread across his lips and he should draw his words out slowly, but very clear and audibly, in a tone that makes him sound conniving.)

Every way makes my gain. Live Roderigo,

He calls me to a restitution large

(Here, Iago should change his tone to one of slight distress. He has just realized a possible slight folly in his plan, and he's thinking about the possibilities of fixing or preventing it. His face changes from one of confidence from the last line, to one of calculation and slight dismay, back to one of confidence.)

Of gold and jewels that I bobbed from him

As gifts to Desdemona.

It must not be. If Cassio do remain

( Start off this line slowly. As he continues on to "If Casio do remain", he should look down, talking more to himself than to the audience. Lower his tone down a little, but no so much that the audience has trouble hearing him. Still low enough so that none of the other cast members could hear him.)

He hath a daily beauty in his life

That makes me ugly. And besides, the Moor

(Here, a tone of indignity should take over his speech as he begins to talk more again to the audience. He spits the words out, as if in disgust, but he keeps his calm and calculating composure. He looks from side to side for one second, but then focuses his gaze once again on the audience, scanning every once in awhile to indicate liveliness.)

May unfold me to him—there stand I in much peril.

No, he must die. But so, I hear him coming.

(Here, rush a little, as if someone from the cast is coming, and may walk into hearing range. He will steady himself up as if he's about to go into a battle of words, and a false smile should spread over his face.)

Journal two:

Name a couple of important scenes that this character appears in. (You'll have to look them up, and include the act and scene numbers.)

Cassio appears in a few important scenes. One is Act four, scene one, pages 175 to 183. Also, there is Act five, scene one, pages 225 to 233. The first-mentioned scene is important because it shows one of the most important parts of Iago’s plan. He needs to show Othello that what he is saying reliable information. He plans to lead Othello to believe that Cassio is talking about Desdemona when he’s really referring to Bianca, who later arrives to confront Cassio. If Othello believes that Cassio really is talking about Desdemona, it will benefit Iago’s goal even more, because he will then want to kill Cassio. I see the second scene as important because it is the moment of truth for Iago. One of his main goals was to Kill Cassio, and this is where Roderigo is supposed to take action. We get to see if Iago’s dream will come to fruition, or whether it will all crumble on top of him. Eventually it does fall apart, but this was still a moment of suspense.

- What does this character observe first hand? (What do they see personally?)

Throughout the play, Cassio is just a piece in Iago's game. He's being used and manipulated without even knowing it, and the things he does that incriminate him are completely innocent acts. Iago’s strategic genius puts Cassio in a horrible situation. He knows exactly how people will react to what he says, and uses it against them. Cassio only sees what's happening truly when he is attacked in the dark street by Iago. He cries that he's been murdered by villains and such things, but he still does not see the acting hand.

- What does this character observe second hand? (What are they told by other characters?)

Cassio is not told much by other characters. He does work with Desdemona to try and get his position back, but she is just as ignorant as he is, so she couldn't have told him what was coming. Ultimately, Cassio does not become Othello’s officer. The only person who really knows what's going on is Iago, and he only tells his plans to the audience. Only in the last scene of the play does Cassio discover all of Iago’s lies and treachery.

- How can we understand this character's motivations better when we concentrate only on their scenes?

We can analyze exactly how Cassio reacts to certain situations involving other people and what he really wants throughout the play: to be Othello’s officer.. By studying his interactions with the people around him, we can  better understand just what he wanted from them, and how they fit into his master plan. For example, reading his scenes with Bianca would show us how he acts with and what he confides in the people closest to him.

Journal three:

OTHELLO: Othello was once a slave. He was one for a long part of his life, but he showed the skills necessary to be freed. He showed the military power and resolve that would enable him to command men in war. So he was freed and became a soldier, then rose through the ranks and became a general in the Venetian army. His strong sense of body and mind is shown through his love and faith toward Desdemona. He also shows the great reserves of anger he possesses when he's told by Iago of her infidelity. He has always been close to Iago, and has a great sense of trust for him; this explains why he believed him without much hesitation about Desdemona, despite the love and faith he knows she has for him. Othello is a very determined and motivated man, which is why Iago had only to plant the tiny seed of jealousy in his mind; he knew that it would not take too much to convince Othello that Desdemona has been unfaithful.

Journal four:

- In the scene my group was assigned, scene six, I play Othello. Othello is angry because he thinks that Desdemona has given his handkerchief to Cassio as a gift, and that is one of his most prized possessions. When he tells Desdemona the story of how he got the handkerchief, he says that it was a gift from his mother, and that it has magical properties.  Since Othello is a general, I'm going to try to be stern, but not too frigid. I'm going to try to bring that anger into his words and the way he moves.

- Since Othello goes away at the beginning of the scene so he can spy on Cassio and Iago speaking, I'm going to use my hooded sweatshirt as a costume to symbolize him hiding from them. I’ll raise the hood when I go to hide behind the pillar. The sweatshirt will be white so that I can better blend in with the pillar.

- Our group has gone through our scene very many times. We've tried it a few different ways, and we have come up with something that works for all of us. We're going to bring a lot of emotion to the stage, and we hope to make it flow nicely with the other groups' scenes.

Journal five:

-Analyze one of your lines from your scene. Quote it directly and then explain why it is important to the play, and how you showed its importance in your performance. How did you deliver this line

  • There is one line in my scene, Act Six, which is said by Othello: “By heaven, that should be my handkerchief!”. This is the point where he sees Bianca and Cassio with it. Bianca confronts Cassio about his finding it in his room and not knowing who left it there. She believes that she has been unfaithful to her and that the handkerchief belongs to another woman he’s been sleeping with. This quote is important to the play because it shows Othello’s anger at the fact that he believes Desdemona left it there while she was in Cassio’s room sleeping with him. But, however, that is not the case. It was strategically placed there by Iago to make it look like exactly that happened. It was also Iago’s plan to have Cassio and Bianc in the same room so that Othello would see them, and so Iago could trick Othello into believing Cassio was with Desdemona. This is the handkerchief Othello’s mother gave to him, and he has told Desdemona the story of his origin, so he’s furious to see it in someone else’s hands. I showed the importance of his anger by yelling the line from behind the pillar where I was hiding. I then stormed out to Iago and asked him how I’d murder Cassio, which speaks once again to his anger.

  • Did your group's performance go as you expected and planned? Now that it is over, what are you proud of? What would you have done differently in your performance?

  • I would say that it did go as we planned. I’d say it didn’t in that I didn’t think it would go by so fast. With all the scenes going on, ours, since it had so little dialogue, seemed short in comparison. But it did go well; all of us remembered our lines, and I feel like we brought the emotion we rehearsed with us to the stage. It’s different going up on a stage than it is rehearsing in the back of the room. I’m a lot more aware, and I go over my lines in my head a lot more before I have to say them. I was altogether satisfied with our performance. Our group also had a lot of fun rehearsing together. We got to try it out a lot of different ways and see which one worked best for us. That was a really fun process that helped ease a lot of the nervousness I had about performing.

  • How did performing the play change your understanding of it?

  • It helped me understand better where Othello was coming from on the whole subject of Desdemona being unfaithful to him. He is angry for this entire scene because now he’s seen some “proof” of her infidelity, and as I was trying to capture that anger, I found myself putting my feet in his shoes. I was imagining that I was him, and how I would feel if I’d been through everything he had. It gave me a closer perspective of all the characters in my scene: Othello, Iago, Cassio and Bianca. It made me better understand the perspective of Othello.