One of Shakespeare's most tragic heroes squares off against literature's greatest villain in a visceral, sexy, hard-driving story of intrigue, betrayal and vengeance, as Iago leads Othello to The Edge of jealous madness by sowing seeds of doubt about his wife's fidelity. This classic revenge tragedy comes to life in a modern and edgy adaptation set in the world of motorcycle gangs. This production of Othello will be directed by Artistic Director Mark Clements, the role of Othello will be performed by guest actor Lindsay Smiling, and the role of Iago will be performed by Rep Resident Acting Company Member Gerard Neugent. The Rep's production of Othello is sponsored by Harley-Davidson Motor Company and runs April 3 – May 6, 2012 in The Rep's Quadracci Powerhouse and previews Tuesday, April 3 – Thursday, April 5, and opens on Friday, April 6.
"Othello is a play that I have wanted to do for a very long time," says Artistic Director Mark Clements. "Shakespeare was the greatest writer of his time and nobody has eclipsed his skills, I believe, in over 400 years. His plays still tell the greatest stories and influence modern movies and plays we see today. Othello is one such story that explores the human condition of jealousy. It is a thriller that will be set with a very contemporary feel, making Shakespeare's text live for today."
The Rep's production of Othello will incorporate contemporary elements of motorcycle gang culture (think Sons of Anarchy), but will still maintain the poetry and beauty of the language of Shakespeare. Clements added, "The choice to set this production in the midst of a motorcycle club came to me almost 20 years ago. Since encountering them at a young age, I have held an affinity and fascination for motorcycles and the lifestyle that accompanies riding them. I had always felt that Othello was a good fit for the worldview shared by these bikers. This being the hometown of Harley-Davidson, it made sense that it was the perfect time to bring the concept to fruition."
Sponsor Harley-Davidson Motor Company has provided guidance and assistance for this production. They have provided two Harley motorcycles that will appear on stage as well as motorcycle parts used for the set and prop design.
The cast for Othello includes: Lee E. Ernst (Brabantio/Montano/Fight Choreographer), a member of The Rep's 2011/12 Resident Acting Company who recently performed the role of Atticus Finch in The Rep's production of To Kill a Mockingbird; other recent roles include Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol and Vince Lombardi in The Rep's hit production of Lombardi; Melissa Graves (Bianca/Ensemble), a member of The Rep's Artistic Intern Ensemble who was recently part of the ensemble in To Kill a Mockingbird, appeared in A Christmas Carol and in the Rep Lab productions of Bright.Apple.Crush., Land of the Dead and Devised; Mattie Hawkinson (Desdemona), making her Rep debut, is a graduate of Northwestern University and The London Academy of Theatre; recent credits include the world premiere of Ken Ludwig's Games Afoot at the Cleveland Play House; other theaters include Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Lookingglass Theatre Company and Victory Gardens Theater, amongst others; film and television credits include Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Everybody's Fine and Law & Order SVU; Michael M. Kroeker (Lodovico), The Rep's Artistic Associate, was previously a member of The Rep's Artistic Ensemble and most recently appeared in last season's production of Death of a Salesman as Bernard and also appeared in The Rep's production of All My Sons (2002/03); Reese Madigan (Michael Cassio), returns to The Rep after appearing as Paul Hornung in The Rep's production of Lombardi earlier this season; he has appeared in many Rep productions including The 39 Steps, Death of a Salesman, King Lear, Sueño and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Gerard Neugent (Iago), is a member of The Rep's Resident Acting Company who recently appeared in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) in The Rep's Stackner Cabaret and Lombardi in The Rep's Quadracci Powerhouse; other Rep credits include Death of a Salesman, The 39 Steps, Laurel and Hardy and Seven Keys to Slaughter Peak, amongst many others; Alexander Pawlowski IV (Herald), is an Acting Apprentice this season and was a member of last season's 2010/11 Acting Intern Ensemble who recently performed the role of Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird; he also performed the role of Mr. Mudd in The Rep's production of A Christmas Carol and last season was the Customs Officer in Cabaret; James Pickering (Duke of Venice), is a member of The Rep's 2011/12 Resident Acting Company who recently performed the role of Judge Taylor in To Kill a Mockingbird; previously this season he was seen as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol; Pickering also recently appeared in Next Act Theatre's production of The Exonerated; Lindsay Smiling (Othello), an award-winning actor (Jeff Nomination and three Barrymore Awards) will be making his Rep debut with this production; credits include: As You Like It (Pittsburgh Public Theater); Othello (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey); Treasure Island (Off-Broadway) and Blue Door (Victory Gardens Theater) amongst others; Deborah Staples (Emilia), is a member of The Rep's 2011/12 Resident Acting Company who recently performed the role of Jean Louise in To Kill a Mockingbird, The Ghost of Christmas Past in The Rep's production of A Christmas Carol and was in last season's Speaking in Tongues and Death of a Salesman; Staples will be appearing in The Blonde, The Brunette and The Vengeful Redhead next at Writers' Theatre in Glencoe, Illinois; Jonathan Wainwright (Roderigo), appeared in The Rep's production of Translations in the 2006/07 season and has performed extensively with other Milwaukee area theaters including Milwaukee Chamber Theatre (Mauritius and Take Me Out), Next Act Theatre, First Stage Children's Theater and Milwaukee Mask and Puppet Theatre.