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The Folger Spotlight

Venice to Cyprus

Hey from Louis/Roderigo! We’re deep in the throes of Technical Rehearsals (“Tech”) for Othello at Folger Theatre.

For those keeping score at home, as predicted, we spent the duration of our long day yesterday completing the enormous scene change into Cyprus. It’s looking pretty magnificent.

Something like a scene change may seem fairly innocuous. The reason that director Robert Richmond spends as much time on a scene change as he does is that he feels it is another opportunity to tell the story—as opposed to time taken to move furniture.

In Othello, the move to Cyprus has lots of significance. It is an exotic, foreign place, it is far more “Eastern” in feel than the Venetian location at the top of the play, it is a place of mystery and hedonism, a place where Michael Cassio can lose himself in drink, and where Iago can begin to plot Othello’s downfall.

As always, I don’t want to spoil it for you. But what I will say of the scene change is that it has several surprises. In about 2 minutes, the change evokes an explosion of the Venetian Senate, a storm at sea, and a “blossoming” of an opulent hookah lounge and market square in Cyprus.

It also involves the entire ensemble of actors and stage hands, running around doing multiple tasks backstage, up in the balconies, in the tech booth, and out in the lobby. It was worth the four hours we spent getting it right if, and we hope this is the case, you don’t notice any of these things. Fingers crossed.

OK. Tech continues today. More to come.