As well as looking at how we’ve staged Othello, which you can do in the Investigate section, it’s important to think about what you would do if you were staging the play. And, if you can, to perform parts of it yourself.

We encourage you to look at the play, or scenes in the play, and think through the decisions a director makes with their actors:

  • Where is the play set?
  • How are the characters connected?
  • What do the characters want?


Here you can find some key things to think about before staging the play yourself. Even if you’re working towards an exam or preparing for an assignment, it’s important to think about different ways of reading lines or words, and taking a look at the key decisions a director needs to make could really help your essay responses.

  • Key decisions to make

    There are certain things that every director and creative team have to consider when staging Othello. The way you answer the questions can create incredibly different interpretations of the play.


    • How is the military structured and how has Othello achieved so much success in the army?
    • How is the military world of Cyprus different from Venice, and how does that affect Othello and Desdemona?
    • How will you stage Cyprus?
    • How do the soldiers, such as Cassio and Iago, behave with each other and their general, Othello?

    Race and Belonging

    • What does Othello’s race mean to him personally, and how does this impact on his job and in his relationships?
    • How important is Othello’s race to any/all of the other characters in the play?
    • How does Othello's background affect his relationship with Desdemona at the start of the play and throughout?
    • How does Othello's background affect his relationship with other characters in Cyprus?


    • What is the role of women in the worlds of Venice and Cyprus?
    • How will you show the differences in the lives of the three women: Desdemona, Emilia and Bianca?
    • How do these differences affect how characters speak to and about them?
    • How does Othello behave in the company of other men and/or other soldiers and how might this support the audience to understand his mistrust of Desdemona?

    Within each of these choices, there are lots of key moments and scenes to explore.

    Going back through the Investigate section and looking at the different performances we’ve had at the RSC, think about these two areas:

    • Can you see how each director has presented the military world and the behaviour of the soldiers? Why do you think they have made those choices?
    • How important and influential is Othello’s role as an ‘outsider’ or someone from a different racial background?

    Take a look at the Casebook for the 2015 Othello production, to view the specific choices and thinking that have informed that staging.

Teacher Notes

This page looks at some of the key decisions a director makes.

Challenge your students to think about how they would want to tell the story of Othello. How would they respond to the questions here?