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ART Brings Acclaimed West Coast 'Othello' to Cambridge in January

Thursday Dec 20, 2018
Chris Butler in "Othello."
Chris Butler in "Othello."  

American Repertory Theater (A.R.T) at Harvard University brings the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's "Othello" by William Shakespeare to Cambridge in January. Marking the first Shakespeare production from the theater company to play the east coast, the acclaimed staging by award-winning director Bill Rauch begins previews Sunday, January 13; opens Friday, January 18; and closes Saturday, February 9, 2019 at the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge, MA.

In Shakespeare's most intimate tragedy, director Bill Rauch ("All the Way" at the A.R.T./Broadway transfer, "Fingersmith" at the A.R.T.) explores society's polarizing struggles with difference. Consumed by their bigotry and xenophobia, those who praised the Moorish general Othello for his military successes now reject his marriage to Desdemona. The newlyweds are determined to overcome this resentment, but Othello's assignment in Cyprus draws them into the web of his lieutenant Iago, whose jealousy knows no bounds.

"All of Shakespeare's plays are 'for all time,' as the adage goes, but I do feel that this play is particularly resonant with the United States of America in the twenty-first century," says Rauch. "Othello illustrates society navigating difference and otherness in a way that is painfully relevant right now. Shakespeare created a portrait of societal constructs and the ways that they hurt the individual psyche and heart. As an undergrad at Harvard ('84) I had the absolute privilege of directing a couple of plays on the Loeb mainstage when I was becoming a director. Now, this is my third professional production at the A.R.T. The space, the institution, the audience, and the Greater Boston community hold great meaning for me personally. It's a great honor to be able to come back and share this work."

"Bill is a visionary director who has a gift for bringing clarity, relevance, and vitality to complex stories, as he did with the A.R.T.'s production of 'All the Way'," says A.R.T.'s Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director Diane Paulus. "I'm thrilled to welcome Bill back to Harvard and the A.R.T. with his production of 'Othello' before he embarks on the next chapter of his professional career as Artistic Director of The Ronald O. Perelman Center for the Performing Arts at the World Trade Center."

Oregon press called the production "riveting," and "haunting and powerful...Rauch makes this telling of 'Othello' feel intimate...(Chris) Butler is stunning as Othello, (Danforth) Comins (as Iago) again proves to be a master at bringing the words of the Bard vividly to life, and Alejandra Escalante is heartbreakingly superb as Desdemona."

Tickets start at $25 and are available now online at americanrepertorytheater.org, by phone at 617.547.8300, and in person at the Loeb Drama Center Ticket Services Offices (64 Brattle Street, Cambridge). Discounts are available to Subscribers, Members, groups, students, seniors, Blue Star families, EBT card holders, and others.

For more information, visit the American Repertory Theater's webpage.


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