West­lake stu­dents pre­pare to per­form “Othello”

Stu­dents bring vi­sion of play to Shake­speare Theatre Com­pany stage

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JamieACIndyNews

Be­trayal. Jeal­ousy. False ac­cu­sa­tions. De­ceit. Mur­der. The time­less themes of Wil­liam Shake­speare’s play “Othello” will be per­formed by stu­dents from West­lake High School on the Shake­speare Theatre Com­pany’s stage in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., later this month.

The op­por­tu­nity to per­form on the STC stage is of­fered through the com­pany’s “Text Alive!” pro­gram, wherein high school stu­dents work with STC per­form­ers to learn more about Shake­speare, his plays, and per­form­ing those plays. The se­mes­ter-long pro­gram cul­mi­nates with stu­dents de­sign­ing and per­form­ing a scene from one of Shake­speare’s plays.

This year, ap­prox­i­mately 60 stu­dents in three classes are tak­ing part, due to a grant from the Charles County Arts Al­liance, said West­lake English teacher James Mas­cia.

The stu­dents will be per­form­ing their scenes April 30 at the Lans­burg Theatre in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

The three classes are per­form­ing their own scenes. As part of the dis­cus­sion of the play, stu­dents have the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop the set­ting for their scene, in­clud­ing wardrobe, props and back­ground, said Paul Reis­man, STC teach­ing artist.

One class has cho­sen a pi­rat­i­cal set­ting, an­other has cho­sen a Mafia gang set­ting, and the third class has cho­sen an an­cient Ro­man set­ting.

Not all of the stu­dents will act in the play, but other stu­dents will have a role in stage di­rec­tion, props and back­ground, Reis­man said.

“Ev­ery class gets to de­cide what their own de­sign con­cept, how the scene will be pre­sented,” Reis­man said. “Each class adds their own in­ter­pre­ta­tion to the ma­te­rial.”

Ben Booker, 17, is the set and cos­tume de­sign di­rec­tor for the class that chose an an­cient Ro­man set­ting.

“Othello is based in the 1600s, and we felt that a Ro­man set­ting had many of the same themes, with the dif­fer­ences be­tween higher and lower classes, the role of the mil­i­tary, so we de­cided to use that for our set­ting,” Booker said.

Last week, Reis­man worked with stu­dents act­ing in the play on their roles, get­ting into char­ac­ter and the stag­ing of the play.

Brid­gette Wil­son, 18, will play Des­de­mona, wife of Othello, af­ter she has been falsely ac­cused of in­fi­delity in Act IV, scene iii of the play. Wil­son said she can re­late to what Des­de­mona is go­ing through in that scene.

“I had a friend that was in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion to [Des­de­mona], and I un­der­stand how she felt in that sit­u­a­tion,” Wil­son said.

Ean Rut­ledge, 18, will play Iago, the vil­lain of the play, as he con­vinces Des­de­mona’s spurned suitor, Roderigo, to kill Othello’s lieu­tenant, in Act IV, scene ii.

“He’s a sneaky, sly per­son, and I can re­late to that,” Rut­ledge said.

Reis­man said one of the goals of the pro­gram is to help the stu­dents gain a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of “Othello”.

“Shake­speare’s plays were re­ally writ­ten to be per­formed, not just read, so I want them to get a real sense of what the text is for, and and for them to see it in ac­tion,” Reis­man said.


West­lake se­nior Kiree Moore, left, as Roderigo, con­fronts Ean Rut­ledge, as Iago, in a re­hearsal of Act IV Scene ii of Wil­liam Shake­speare’s “Othello”. West­lake stu­dents will per­form the scene on the stage of the Shake­speare Theatre Com­pany in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., April 30.

Paul Reis­man, Shake­speare Theatre Com­pany teach­ing artist, helps West­lake se­niors Brid­gette Wil­son, seated, who plays Des­de­mona, and Ca­reese Smith, stand­ing, who plays Bianca, in Act IV, Scene iii of Wil­liam Shake­speare’s “Othello”. The West­lake stu­dents will per­form their scene as part of STC’s “Text Alive!” in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., April 30.

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