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Othello (1989)



A Royal Shakespeare Company production of Shakesperare's play, performed at The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon (opened August 1989), and The Young Vic, London (20 September - 11 November 1989).

Performance length: 4 hours (including interval)


Othello image #1 Othello image #2 Othello image #3 Othello image #4

With thanks to Zoë for the first photo and Nadine for the others.


Outwardly, Iago is an honourable, trustworthy soldier, yet he is adept at concealing his true feelings.  Jealous of his companion Othello's superiority, and embittered by the wild suggestion that the higher-ranking soldier may have seduced his wife, Emilia, he is privately eager to exact his revenge.  Ruthlessly exploiting others in his schemes, Iago determines to bring about Othello's downfall, with far-reaching, tragic consequences.


Michael Grandage ... Roderigo

Ian McKellen ... Iago

Clive Swift ... Brabantino

Willard White ... Othello

Sean Baker ... Cassio

Brian Lawson ... First Senator

David Hounslow ... Servant to the Senate

John Burgess ... Duke of Venice

Imogen Stubbs ... Desdemona

Philip Sully ... Montano

David Hounslow ... First Cyprus Soldier

Brian Lawson ... Second Cyprus Soldier

Zoe Wanamaker ... Emilia

David Hounslow ... First Othello Soldier

Brian Lawson ... Second Othello Soldier

Marsha Hunt ... Bianca

John Burgess ... Lodovico

Clive Swift ... Gratiano


At The Young Vic
Director: Trevor Nunn
Designer: Bob Crowley
Lighting Designer: Chris Parry
Lighting (re-created for The Young Vic): Robert A. Jones
Music: Guy Woolfenden
Fight Director: Malcolm Ranson
Sound: Paul Slocombe
Music Director: Jonathan Goldstein
Assistant Director: Stephen Rayne
Design Assistant: Jill Jowett
Company and Stage Manager: Michael Townsend
Deputy Stage Manager: Rachael Artingstall
Assistant Stage Manager: Elaine Huxley
Musicians: Jonathan Goldstein (harmonium/keyboards) and Peter Rolinson (trumpet/bugle/harmonica)
Production Photographer: Richard Mildenhall
Programme compiler: Kathy Elgin
Programme designer: Ginny Crow


Zoë described her preparation for the role of Emilia during an interview for AS-Guru, a programme aimed at AS-Level students studying Othello.  As she explained, she envisaged Emilia as 'an abused woman' and so read a great deal about relationships that had gone terribly wrong.  'I think that she [Emilia] deludes herself - or hopes - that the relationship [she has with Iago] will someday get better, and someday she'll come through it, but I think not', Zoe concluded.

For her portrayal of Emilia in this production of Othello, Zoë was nominated for the 1989/1990 Olivier Award for Outstanding Performance of the Year in a Supporting Role.

The editors of the Riverside Shakespeare (a well respected edition of Shakespeare's complete works) not only praise Zoe's performance, but also suggest that director Trevor Nunn's staging is possibly Othello's 'defining production'.

Critically acclaimed, the production was adapted for television in 1990, preserving it for future audiences.

Othello was the last play staged at The Other Place, before the theatre closed for rebuilding.  It is also the last play, to date, in which Zoe has appeared with the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company, which she joined in 1976.  Her other RSC productions during the 1980s include The Time of Your Life (1983), Twelfth Night (1983), The Comedy of Errors (1983), and Mother Courage and Her Children (1984). 

Thirty years earlier, and in another extremely well received production, Zoë's father, Sam Wanamaker, had played Iago opposite Paul Robeson's Othello.


Othello Region 1 DVD (recording of TV broadcast)

Othello Region 2 DVD (recording of TV broadcast)

Othello by William Shakespeare

Related links

Othello production information and photos - Sir Ian McKellen Official Homepage

Othello production photo - Photostage (search website using the keywords 'Othello' and 'Wanamaker' to view image)

Othello (The Other Place) production information - Designing Shakespeare Collection, AHDS Performing Arts Database

Othello (The Young Vic) production information - Designing Shakespeare Collection, AHDS Performing Arts Database

Othello (The Other Place) production information - Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Othello (The Young Vic) production information - Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Othello plot summary and staging history - The RSC Shakespeare

Othello complete text - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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