Investigate this relationship
How have Desdemona and Othello been represented and staged?
Unlike lots of Shakespeare's tragedies, Othello is very domestic. It doesn't deal with regime changes and kings, but focuses on the damage done to one relationship. Even the settings get smaller throughout the play, with the final scenes taking place in Desdemona's bedroom.
Take a look at the Things to Consider and investigate the different ways we’ve portrayed Othello and Desdemona's relationship in past productions in this picture gallery. There is also the opportunity to investigate Act 5 Scene 2, the scene leading up to Desdemona's death.
Investigate Act 5 Scene 2
As you look through the images and photographs from past productions of Othello, think about:
- What choices the designer has made for how Othello and Desdemona look, and what that suggests about them. Are they similar to each other or from different worlds? How are their similarities and differences drawn out?
- How the relationship between them comes across in each production. In the 2015 production, Iqbal Khan and actor Hugh Quarshie, who plays Othello, wanted to explore what it was that would drive a rational and confident general to murder someone he really loved. Do you think their connection comes across as genuine in these images? To what extent does Othello love Desdemona? Her understanding of him comes from his stories but how well does she know him and how is this shown on stage?
- Whether some productions are very different or if there are lots of similarities. What connects each of them and how have portrayals changed?
Where would you choose to set a production of Othello and what choices would you make to show the relationship between Othello and Desdemona?