Home > acting > Othello, Day 1: Creating an Active Audience

Othello, Day 1: Creating an Active Audience

From the Library of Congress: *TITLE: Thos. W....
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Our opening night had a tremendous turn-out, over seventy people there to see the show and raising ~450$ in donations for the Victoria Shakespeare Society.

Energy ramped up considerably, to the point where the fights were verging on real, with myself finding it difficult to breathe in a couple of strangleholds, and I was also stabbed in the leg with a sword (left but a slight mark).

What this building energy resulted in for my acting was, surprisingly, that while I hit all my lines, specific words disappeared from my lips; I must have used at least 20 synonyms throughout the night, with lines switching from, for example, “What, shake you at that?” to “What, tremble you at that?”. But every scene was hit, and hit well.

It was also the first night we had ever used the lighting; we hadn’t been able to put them up for our rehearsals! But I naturally move to where the light strikes my face, so all was well there.

What really struck me (other than the sword) about the evening was my audience interactions. I must confess, I get such glee from acting as Iago and surprising audience members by, say, throwing them a cloak to hold, sitting down beside them and watching a scene, hiding amongst them, roaming behind their backs. It fills me with a radiant energy that carries me for hours.

This isn’t all self-indulgent, of course; I find it helps a play immensely by creating the nervousness of an actively-listening audience, keeps them on their toes, knowing that more is possible here in this space than, say, sitting in a movie theatre. That at any time I might, heaven forbid, interact with them. GASP!

It also sets up the stage as being Iago’s territory. This is far more his play than anyone else’s, and he speaks directly to the audience a great deal, keeping them as confidants to his plans and ploys, as friends for his wicked jokes. It is only natural to extend that branch further.

So if you plan on attending on Monday or Tuesday, be wary – I will not be acting at you; we share this play together.

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