[Production Update: As of 10/22/14, this production has been cancelled.] Three of L.A.’s most venerable artistic directors come together when Odyssey Theatre Ensemble (Ron Sossi, artistic director) and The New American Theatre (Jack Stehlin, artistic director) present a bold new production of Shakespeare’s Othello, directed by Rogue Machine artistic director John Perrin Flynn. The modern dress production, starring Stehlin as Iago opposite A Martinez in the title role, opens October 17 at the Odyssey Theatre in West L.A.
Tragic events are set in motion when Othello, commander of the Venetian army, makes the handsome and charismatic Cassio his lieutenant, bypassing his ensign Iago for promotion. Consumed by envy, his resentment fueled by his knowledge that Cassio has never seen battle, Iago plots his revenge. In this riveting psychological drama, we see how social order, racial politics and the stress of a soldier’s life combine to push Iago over the edge, as he coldly calculates the destruction of Othello and Othello’s young wife Desdemona.
“Othello is set on an army base in occupied territory,” says Flynn. “The Venetians conquered Cypress from the Turks. When we put Shakespeare’s characters in contemporary uniform, we suddenly recognize this as a story about military life and what that life can do to someone. We still live in the same world today, we still deal with the same issues. Othello remains relevant because nothing has changed. Shakespeare had such a modern understanding of how people interrelate.”
According to Flynn, he has always wanted to direct Othello and knew he had found his Iago when he saw Stehlin’s LA Weekly Award-nominated performance in last year’s Odyssey/New American Theatre co-production of Creditors. As an actor, Stehlin is perhaps best known as DEA Capt. Roy Till on the Showtime series Weeds, as well as for his long history with Shakespeare at the Public Theater and critically acclaimed Odyssey/New American Theatre productions of Hamlet, Macbeth and Richard III. Part Mexican and part Native American, veteran actor Martinez (Longmire, Santa Barbara, The Bold and The Beautiful, LA Law, etc.) takes on the role of the steadfast general whom passion seemingly “cannot shake” – until the powder keg simmering beneath his surface is ignited by the cunning Iago.
Also in the cast are Anna DiGiovanni (Desdemona), Robb Derringer (Michael Cassio), Susan Wilder (Emila), Marc Jablon (Roderigo), Peter Van Norden (Brabantio), Kate Parkin (Bianca), Ron Bottitta (Gratiano), James Liebman (Lodovico), Wendy Radford (council leader), and Spencer Rowe (Montano), with Bryson Jones Allman Brendan Gill and Nick Marini as soldiers.
Set design for Othello is by Stephanie Kerley Schwartz; lighting design is by Leigh Allen; costume design is by Elizabeth A. Cox; original music is composed by Roger Bellon; violence designer is Ned Mochel; assistant directors are Amy Borsuk and Ilana Rozin; and stage manager is Alexx Zachary. Ron Sossi and Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin produce.
October 24 (new opening date) – December 14, 2014
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90025
Tickets & info: (310) 477-2055 or www.OdysseyTheatre.com
There will be four pay-what-you-can (minimum $10) performances on Thursday, Oct. 23; Wednesday, Nov. 5; Friday, Nov. 14 and Friday, Nov. 28. The third Friday of every month is wine night at the Odyssey: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show.