English News: Sixth Form Visit to the National Theatre’s Production of Othello

9th Jan 2023

OthelloThirty-six A Level English Literature pupils braved an evening excursion on the first day back after the Christmas holidays to watch director Clint Dyer’s fresh take on Shakespeare’s enduring tragedy Othello. Many of our A Level pupils study the play as their set Shakespeare text, so to be able to take them to experience a first-rate production at the National was an absolute treat. Their anticipation had been building throughout the coach journey, with excited conversations about London, the theatre, and the play itself. As we entered the auditorium, the pupils were immediately drawn to the timeless, yet somehow futuristic, set design: a particularly impressive touch was the projection of theatre posters and front pieces from printed copies of the play which adorned the back wall. 

As soon as the play began, we were struck by how claustrophobic, intense and pacy it felt, with many of us gripped and on the edge of our seats. Our interval and post-performance discussions commented on the impact of particular actors - all of the leads portrayed Othello, Iago and Desdemona in fresh ways which altered our previous thoughts about the possibility their characters afford - the attention that was drawn to the visceral masculinity and racism at the heart of the play, and the ingenuity of many of the directorial decisions made, including the eerie chorus present on stage for Iago and Othello’s soliloquies. There was a tangible ‘buzz’ as the pupils enthused at length about their impressions of the production’s interpretations of the text and the accomplishments of the cast and creative teams. 

It is perhaps testament to the intensity and impact of the production that, when Dr Blanch and I turned to check on the pupils en route home - after conversing ourselves non-stop about the play’s highlights - almost all of the pupils were fast asleep… Or, just maybe, it was because it was approaching midnight after the first day back at school! 

Mr Tugby 


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