So. Okay. [deep breath.] I'm playing Othello.
I'm about twenty years too young to be playing the Moor. How apt, to be so worried about growing old and stale, while living my waking life impatient with my youth.
I'm so stoked to be him. I'm scared shitless. As you may recall, my particular bete noir, my peculiar affinity, at this stage, is for a Theatre which deals explicitly and directly with Race. I'm not saying that all Theatre should do so, I'm merely nursing an appetite for something with which my culture deals far too seldomly. So to be playing Othello right now is a bit of a coup in quite a number of ways. To put it lightly.
Right now, we're immersed in tablework, hammering out and pounding away at textual and contextual questions. Scholarship, matters of Quarto and Folio, questions of intent and scansion. The meat and potatoes, the dry fiber of Shakespeare that puts off a great many modern actors, but also brings out gloriously, devastatingly intelligent talents. And here's where it gets tricky--my Desdomona and my Iago are both very intelligent and far more experienced than I. They are local actors of reputation and skill. To be honest, the only reason I was cast as Othello is because there are practically no actors of color in this city, a product of the aforementioned tendency for my culture not to deal with Race constructively. So I'm feeling a substantial degree of entitlement-anxiety, compounded with the assured evidence that I'm substantially outclassed by at least two of my principal castmates.
This is most apt. Here I am, usually the one castmate always arguing for more intelligent discussion, more research, more tablework, much, much more--and now to be so singularly and comprehensively outclassed, undereducated, inarticulate compared to half a dozen brighter lights in this cast, and this when all eyes are on me to hold forth and carry a greater momentum in the discussions than anyone else, save the director (and, yes, granted, Iago definitely should be talking more than me, too).
How the hell am I supposed to hold my own, much less dominate, much less deal with them on an equal basis? I can't hide out in my removed, rarified, misanthropic manner, seeing as how my character's name is in bold print everywhere. And these people expect me to lead this cast. This of the guy who couldn't lead a line of kindergarteners without getting tied up on the monkeybars by the little snotrags.
That said, I do have some faith in my own abilities, in my training and in my book-learning. More importantly, faith in the fact that I LOVE THIS TEXT. I may not be as assuredly expert in its workings, but the power of the verse can and does speak through me, I do know this. Paul Robeson has always been one of my sainted heroes, and the resonating recordings of his performance certainly inspires me. I approach this experience with humble determination, mindful of my inadequacy yet all the more devoted to serving this powerful text. It is the cause, it is the cause, o my soul. These glorious lines, these sweeping, heaving, billowing verses express the scale and pitch of utter heartbreak, and they are so very, very beautiful to hear and speak. I've never tired of them. Lear and Hamlet are too overmuch. Mac lacks scope and depth. Richard II is too weak. But Othello, now here's a fellow of some soul.
I'm looking ever forward to getting off book as quickly as humanly possible. Quick's the word, and sharp's the action. Expect to read a great deal about this in the next few weeks.
In other news.
I saw Revenge of the Sith tonight. Because I'm Better Than You. An advance-advance, hush-hush deal. Finally, AT LONG LAST, a great Star Wars prequel. (Excepting the bits when people are talking) ("Younglings"? Please. Luckily, this movie is all about the lightsabers.)
I discovered the name of a librarian, for whom I've long nursed a passing infatuation. Salt-and-pepper hair, wan smile, distant and pale eyes, a languid sweep in how she handles the curve of her hips. As usual, no hope in this for me whatsoever, just the deliciousness of a simple, small, hopeless crush.
I remembered to water the plants.
The Fuente Ovejuna cast had a party the other night, in a beautifully restored mansion in NW Portland. We took lamps and candles and explored the highest and darkest attic to discover a door to the roof, with a breathtaking view, hills and bridges illuminated in the cold spring night.
I've befriended a number of spiders. They have no idea where my Book of Days might be.