Screened as part of the 2015 & 2016 Fugard Bioscope World Arts Season. From the National Theatre.
The Fugard Bioscope brings you a screening of the National Theatre's major new production of Othello, William Shakespeare’s celebrated play about the destructive power of jealousy.
Olivier Award-winning actor Adrian Lester (Henry V at the National Theatre, BBC’s Hustle) takes the title role. Playing opposite him as the duplicitous Iago is fellow Olivier Award-winner Rory Kinnear (The Last of the Haussmans, James Bond: Skyfall), who is reunited with director Nicholas Hytner (Timon of Athens, One Man, Two Guvnors) following their acclaimed collaboration on the National Theatre’s recent production of Hamlet.
Othello, newly married to Desdemona – who is half his age – is appointed leader of a major military operation. Iago, passed over for promotion by Othello in favour of the young Cassio, persuades Othello that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair.
First performed by the King’s Men at the court of James I in November 1604, Othello has since played to generations of audiences.
The National Theatre’s first production of the play was in 1964, when John Dexter staged it, with Laurence Olivier (the National’s first Director) as Othello and Maggie Smith as Desdemona. The Daily Express newspaper described tickets for this production as ‘the most difficult piece of paper to get hold of in London.’ Olivier’s portrayal won huge praise and some criticism, cementing its place in the National Theatre’s history.
In 1980, the National’s second Director, Peter Hall, directed Paul Scofield as the Moor, with Felicity Kendal as Desdemona; and in 1997, Sam Mendes was the director for a production led by David Harewood and Simon Russell Beale, which played at the Salzburg Festival before transferring to the Cottesloe Theatre.
The National’s current Director, Nicholas Hytner, first talked to Adrian Lester about playing Othello in 2003, but only ten years later was the production staged in the Olivier Theatre.