Othello Falling Benefit Continue to Next Page: Act One - Othello ("I am fire and muscle...") Return to the Benefit Directory
As the thought to create this benefit, celebrating the five year anniversary of Poets Against Abuse, grew in
my mind, I was inspired by a benefit called "Gargoyles and Angels", curated in New York City by Paulette
Powell, in 1993. In it, the man who was my inspiration for the creation of PAA, Don McGregor, joined his wife
Marsha and others in reading their works for a charitable cause. Only instead of gathering on one night, I
thought to present a benefit performance online, which would grow over the course of weeks, and remain as
a permanent part of my website for those who might visit weeks, or even years later.
I chose Othello as the subject because he and his tragic lover, Desdemona, have fascinated readers and
play-goers for centuries, and they also provided me with characters through which I could explore many of
the emotional facets of abusive relationships: pain, rage, betrayal, jealousy, violence. Also, as is
paradoxically true in many such relationships today, the two are deeply in love. Their story ends in tragedy,
and sadly that is true all around us in relationships today as well. But by looking into their hearts and minds,
perhaps there is hope that some may find keys within their own lives that prevent hurting from overwhelming
them; that might allow insight and perspective enough to reclaim peace and safety in their lives.
Othello Falling will be a series of readings, each about two minutes long, mirroring the five acts of the
Shakespeare play. Each Act will contain three scenes, alternating between recitations by Othello and
Desdemona, revealing their inner thoughts and feelings as their love veers into darkness and tragedy. A
new scene will be added to the site every week, until the "play" is complete.
Please forgive any variance in the volume of sound in the alternating performances by myself and my fellow
performer, the brilliant Jaeda DeWalt. Jaeda and I have no sound stage or recording studio, and are
producing our readings literally on opposite sides of the country; not in a single recording session, but over
a period of weeks.
Thank you for joining us. If you are in an unsafe situation in your life, please feel free to follow the links to
Community Action Stops Abuse that I will place on every page of the benefit. If you wish to help support
CASA, they will gratefully accept donations, however small. When Othello Falling is fully written, it will be
published in book form, with all proceeds from its sale given to Community Action Stops Abuse.
And now, to the tale...
As in the play, the narrative will unfold in Venice and Cyprus, in Shakespeare's time. Othello is a successful
general, and Desdemona the daughter of a Senator. They meet and fall in love, but their passion for one
another is filled with dangerous edges and crosscurrents of emotion. He is a Moor, she is a member of the
Italian aristocracy. He is black, she is white. He is middle-aged, she is young. But most importantly, both
harbor simmering anger in their lives -- Othello, proud of his success as a military man, but stung that the
nobility who press him over and over in military campaigns would never consider allowing him to enter into
their aristocratic circle -- Desdemona, a strong young woman, chafing at the restraints of duty to father and
family that are traditional and expected of her.
One story note: Since this is a two-person poetic play, the other key figure in the Shakespeare play, Iago,
who embodies venomous hatred, and who arranges the events that plunge Othello and Desdemona into
their tragedy, will appear as a part of Othello's own personality, a kind of anti-conscience, who preys on his
own emotional hurts to prompt him into doubt and finally rage.
The story opens in a chapel in Venice, on the wedding day of Othello and Desdemona.
Continue to the Next Page: Act One, Scene One