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PRESS: Lara Foot's OTHELLO adaption to premiere at the Baxter Theatre

Fahiem Stellenboom

 

Shakespeare's OTHELLO, adapted and directed by Lara Foot with a stellar cast and creatives, will premiere in South Africa at the Baxter Theatre this April.

Booking is now open for Lara Foot’s highly anticipated Othello, by William Shakespeare, which makes its South African premiere at The Pam Golding Theatre at The Baxter from 6 April to 4 May 2024, featuring a sterling creative team and cast.

 

The hugely acclaimed production, adapted and directed by Foot, made its debut at the Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus in September 2023, to celebrated praise and earned her the Gustaf Theatre Award 2023 for Outstanding Artistic Achievement for the Direction of Othello.

 

Foot once again teams up with an award-winning formidable creative team: designer Gerhard Marx, a fellow of the Eckhart Residency, the Sundance Film Institute, the Annenberg Fund and the Ampersand Foundation; Kyle Shepherd (music composition) and Patrick Curtis (lighting). She has assembled a stellar cast, led by Atandwa Kani in the title role of Othello, Albert Pretorius (Iago), Carla Smith (Desdemona), Fansiwa Yisa (Emilia), Carlo Daniels (Cassio), Wessel Pretorius (Roderigo), Morne Visser (Brabantio), Lyle October (Montano), Tamzin Williams (Bianca), Awethu Hleli (various roles), Brendon Sean Murray (Duke and various roles), Nolufefe Ntshuntshe (various roles) and Caleb Swanepoel (various).

In this South African production, performed in English, isiXhosa and Afrikaans, Foot focuses on Othello's inner life, wanting to add an African perspective, staging the play in several languages and relocates it to the time of German colonialism, to the time of the Herero uprising in German Southwest Africa, to present-day Namibia.

 

Professor Shose Kessi, Dean of Humanities at the University of Cape Town explains, ”The adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello by Lara Foot is an ambitious and provocative decolonial interpretation of the original piece. Set in Namibia (then German Southwest Africa), it invites audiences to grapple with the legacies of the brutal violence of colonization hinting at the Herero and Nama genocide in the early 20th century.”

 

She continues, “There are many aspects of Foot’s production that propose a decolonial reading of Shakespeare’s Othello. Perhaps one of the most sophisticated so far, the piece fits into an emerging body of work that seeks to not only disrupt the centrality of Shakespeare and western literature in contemporary spaces but also to resist Eurocentric readings of the colonial past. It highlights the role of theatre as both a political instrument to challenge colonial violence and a possible site for decolonial love.“

 

When the production made its debut at Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus last year, the media raved, with  Kölner Stadtanzeiger describing it as, “A powerful, thrilling season opener in Düsseldorf”. Nachricht wrote, “The South African theater maker Lara Foot manages to take a new perspective on Shakespeare's play: she places it in the heyday of European colonialism...” N.R.Z, called it, “well thought-out, consistent and stylish” and Rheinische Post said, “The audience at the opening premiere gave a resounding applause for an evening that is fed by Shakespeare's timeless knowledge of human nature as well as by a clever feeling for the present.”

It is a play in which Shakespeare remorselessly tells of the greatest tragedy imaginable: the destruction of a great love. It is destroyed by envy, distrust, jealousy, hatred; of people who cannot bear to be confronted with the supposedly different, with the stranger. Foot searches for the historical traces of that deeply ingrained hatred and finds them in her story in the colonial wars of the 19th and 20th centuries.

 

Othello is made possible through the generous support of the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs & Sport, the City of Cape Town, Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, National Arts Council, the Presidential Stimulus Employment Programme, Oppenheimer Memorial Trust and NATi.

 

It runs at The Pam Golding Theatre at The Baxter from 6 April to 4 May 2024 Performances are at 7.30pm, Mondays to Fridays, with Saturday matinees at 2pm and weekday schools’ performances at 11am. Booking is through Webtickets online or at Pick n Pay stores.

 

For discounted school’s block bookings, students and group booking, contact Carmen Kearns on carmen.kearns@uct.ac.za or Mark Dobson on email on mark.dobson@uct.ac.za.

 

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