Woodlands Students To Switch Racial Roles In 'Othello'

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From front, Woodlands High School senior Caturah Brown rehearses with senior Jackson Davis. The students will star as wife and husband in the drama club's performance of "Othello" this weekend.
From front, Woodlands High School senior Caturah Brown rehearses with senior Jackson Davis. The students will star as wife and husband in the drama club's performance of "Othello" this weekend. Photo Credit: Samantha Kramer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Woodlands High School students are daring enough to shake up Shakespeare this weekend in their performance of "Othello."

The young group of students have added a twist to the tale, keeping its themes on racism, love and betrayal while "inverting" the cast of its characters. Main character Othello is normally cast for a dark-skinned male, with the rest of the cast full of Caucasian actors.

But to match the demographics that make up Woodlands High School's student body, director Nicole Masi decided to turn things around.

"The racial tension between characters still lies within this rendition," said Masi, who also teaches English and a Shakespeare class at Woodlands. "The students have given 100 percent of themselves to the characters. They've learned to appreciate the stage with an open eye and an open heart."

Woodlands High School senior Jackson Davis will star as Othello, an army general who is ultimately betrayed by one of his officers, Iago. Davis said he loved the challenge of the inverted cast.

"The race of Othello doesn't matter. You can interpret it in many different ways, but the themes of love, jealousy and betrayal are still there," Davis said.

Acting alongside Davis is Caturah Brown, a senior, who plays Othello's wife Desdemona. Her character is caught between Iago — played by Stephen Doyle III — to whom she turned down a marriage proposal, and Othello, who falls into Iago's trap when Iago tells Othello his wife is cheating on him.

Shakespeare fans should see the students' "Othello" this weekend because it shines a new light on an old Shakespeare play, Brown said.

"This performance in particular shows a different side of Shakespeare worth seeing," Brown said.

Davis added he hopes Greenburgh will come out to support both local arts and school by attending the play. The actors have worked hard for several weeks, some of them acting together since the seventh grade, he said.

"Just because it says 'high school' in front of the title doesn't mean it's anything less than great," he said.

The drama club will perform "Othello" on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Woodlands High School "Black Box" theater. Tickets can be purchased at the door, $5 for students and seniors and $10 for adults.

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Love this: "Just because it says 'high school' in front of the title doesn't mean it's anything less than great," Davis said. And he's right. Woodlands' productions are top-notch. Everyone who can see this play should make their way to the Little Theater Friday or Saturday evening.