Arguably one of the most emotionally intense and expertly
crafted dramas of Shakespeare’s career, the Guthrie Theater
performs the tragedy of “Othello” this weekend at the
Power Center. Full of raw human feelings, motivations, jealousies
and passions, “Othello” is a play to be
experienced.

The play tells the story of a soldier, Othello (Lester Purry),
who falls victim to the manipulative Iago (Bill McCallum) — a
man who revels in the power he gets from playing with
people’s lives. The play ends tragically when all of the
events that Iago has set in motion come to a head.

Cheyenne Casebier (Desdemona) described the play as a story of
the extreme love of a very powerful black military man (Othello)
and a white woman (Desdemona), and how Othello’s trust and
friendship in Iago leads to his demise. “It is about the fall
of a great man due to pride and jealousy,” Casebier said.

The costuming and sets come from the Victorian period, but, as
Casebier emphasized, the production stays true to the original
text. All direction comes from the language that Shakespeare put
down on paper.

Casebier plays Desdemona who, in Casebier’s words, is
“a bright, happy, intelligent woman who has fallen in love
with this rich, magical, deep man named Othello. She is in love
with Othello up until the moment he kills her.”

In trying to bring Desdemona to life though, Casebier had to use
both clues in the text as well as personal experience. She
described it as being detective work — first discovering the
character already written down on the page and then fleshing out
the character using her own real-life characteristics. “After
all,” Casebier explained, “everything that you have
experienced is really what is speaking up on stage.”

Casebier admitted that one of the biggest challenges she has
faced has been dealing with the violence, both physical and mental,
that her character is exposed to. “It is strange to go
through something so violent over and over again,” she said.
“It takes a toll on your psyche.”

She immediately added, though, that while “it is an
emotionally demanding show that can be extremely exhausting, the
challenge of doing the show is also thrilling and
exhilarating.”

Casebier is excited to be performing this weekend because, as
she stated, “a great audience for us makes a great show. The
play does not happen exclusively on stage, but happens between the
audience and the actors.

“We are looking forward to an audience that will play with
us.”

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