OTHELLO is a tragic story of love, jealousy, and racial prejudice. Written by William Shakespeare around 1603, the story is set in motion when Othello, a heroic black general, appoints Cassio and not Iago as his chief lieutenant. Jealous of Othello’s success and envious of Cassio, Iago plots Othello’s downfall by falsely claiming that Othello’s wife Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. These very brief adaptations are a wonderful introduction to the story and language of Shakespeare.
Excerpt from the Play:
(Enter STORYTELLER, goes to center stage.)
The story of Othello and his tragic downfall takes place in a time of war.
(Enter OTHELLO, from one side.)
Little does he know that the greatest war of all will be waged by his most trusted and “honest” friend, Iago…
(Enter IAGO, from other side.)
I hate the Moor.
I follow him to serve my turn upon him:
I am not what I am.
Othello is of a “free and loving” nature… all the better to destroy him with.
Why, you ask? Our leader has just married the lovely Desdemona; the most revered and well-to-do woman in the city — happiness abounds! But not with me.
For I have been skipped-over, forgotten… betrayed.
Othello is the general of the Venetian army, and has recently promoted a younger soldier, Michael Cassio, to be his lieutenant…
(Enter CASSIO, who joins OTHELLO, smiling; they shake hands.)
(They salute each other; IAGO scowls at them.)
Cassio’s a “proper” man… with no more experience in the field of battle than a schoolboy! And here I am… stuck in place, in the role of the trusty “ancient” — bid to go on paltry errands. All my many years of service to the Moor thrown out a high window, like unwanted baggage! Fie on him! How dare Othello promote the the beardless Cassio to his lieutenant — the title that was supposed to be MINE! Oh, Othello… you broke my heart. And for that, you will be made to suffer.
Iago was expecting this promotion for himself. So, he vows vengeance.
With as little a web as this will I ensnare as great a fly as Cassio…