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November 7, 2013

Segal Centre presents stage classic 'Othello'

MONTREAL — Textures, colors and shapes abound in a newly adapted take on Shakespeare’s “Othello.”

“Othello,” which is presented Sunday, Nov. 17, through Sunday, Dec. 1, at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, is a co-production with Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre, a Montreal-based independent theater company. The work is directed by Scapegoat Carnivale’s co-artistic director Alison Darcy, who admits that presenting a stage classic comes with some unique theatrical challenges.

“My first challenge was whether to maintain a classical vision or if I wanted to update it with some kind of interpretation,” Darcy said. “But not one beyond the text, necessarily.”

Darcy’s decision was to stick to the basics — albeit a more streamlined version. This “Othello” clocks in at about two hours and 20 minutes. Considered one of Shakespeare’s longest works, the play typically takes more than three hours to perform.

Handling the re-worked dramaturgy is Joseph Shragge, Scapegoat Carnivale’s co-artistic director.

“He did cut about one-third of the play,” Darcy said. “He did a very intelligent but thought-provoking, smart edit.”

Darcy promises no haphazard cuts.

“It still follows all of the original rhythms,” Darcy said. “So I’m not going for the full-on classic. But I didn’t want any men in tights.”

One main reason for the eliminated tights: her father is cast in the play. 

“Yeah, I didn’t want to see him in tights,” Darcy quipped.

Darcy’s dad is playwright Maurice Podbrey from South Africa, who produced last year’s Segal production of “Waiting for the Barbarians.” Podbrey is also the original artistic director of Montreal’s Centaur Theatre.

“He left South Africa but returned after apartheid,” Darcy said. “It was important for him to be part of the new South Africa.”

That said, Darcy does everything she can to occasionally lure him back to Montreal.

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