To be performed by the Birkbeck Students Subversive Shakespeare Company at the Bloomsbury Studio, June 23, 7pm
Sponsored by Birkbeck University Public Engagement
Venue: Bloomsbury Studio, 15 Gordon Street, WC1H 0AH
Hamlet. The Macbeths, of course. Richard III — all tried for murder in modern-day criminal courts. But what of Othello, Shakespeare’s notorious wife-killer? How has he escaped prosecution?
Othello on Trial puts him on trial for murder at the Old Bailey. He has a lawyer and the best available defence. There’s a prosecutor and a judge with the audience taking the role of jurors in Act 2, which doubles as an open forum to discuss the key issues. Is his crime murder or manslaughter? Should extreme emotions — ‘being wrought/Perplexed in the extreme’ as Othello puts it (‘seeing red’ as 21st-century wife-killers put it) — mitigate murder today?
This is the first play in a planned Theatre in Education trilogy that recruits Shakespeare for a project designed to encourage young people to engage critically and actively with the social problem of continuing high levels of violence against women and girls in the UK. Weaving scenes from Shakespeare’s Othello, his uncannily timely ‘domestic’ tragedy about a man’s homicidal rage against his wife, with excerpts from historic and contemporary trials of wife killers, Othello on Trial dramatises the still pervasive problem of intimate partner femicide.