"I am not who I am"; With these words, Jago twists the biblical quote : "I am who I am", and articulates precisely what this Shakespeare tragedy is about: delusions, based on what one believes to be true, without being able to distinguish between what is and what appears to be. Othello's downfall is not occasioned by his actions, but by his mind twisted projections, reinforced by the antagonist Jago, whose assumptions drive him to madness. Spurred on by jealousy and hate, Jago in turn incites jealousy and hate in Othello, thereby reducing the driving force behind human behaviour to hunger for power, greed for money and sheer lust.
Othello is also the tragedy of "foreignness". The Moor of Venice; as Shakespeare calls him, is the black person in a world of whites. The translation/adaptation of the play is by a writer to whom being foreign is a fact of life: Feridun Zaimuglu. He belongs to the second-generation Turks who are perceived as foreigners both here and there. Out of this sense of displacement, Zaimuglu has developed an astute political awareness and succeeded in giving a voice to his generation. Together with scriptwriter Gnter Senkel, he reworked and adapted Othello.
Premiere: 29 March 2003, Münchner Kammerspiele.
cast: since 29/3/03 thomas thieme, werner rehm, stefan merki, wolfgang pregler, bernd grawert, wolfgang hinze, julia jentsch, sheri hagen, jens thomas.
cast since: 13/9/09: nathalie hünermund, thomas thieme, matthias leja, thomas niehaus, wolfgang pregler, bernd grawert, peter maertens, julia jentsch
text: feridun zaimoglu & günter senkel
director: luk perceval
scenography: katrin brack
costume design: ursula renzenbrink
light design:max keller
dramaturgy: marion tiedke
This play harbours a deep sadness. It demonstrates how we are lived by our fears. A fear of abandonment that feeds itself with delusions. Man encaged by his own mortal fear, seized by an illusionary reality. It's a depressing observation that has taken away my appetite for making diary notes these last few days.
A week of intense rehearsal.
Finally on stage, and finally in the company of Jens Thomas (the pianist who improvises during the performance). Finally the anecdote assumes profundity. A man's world, a collection of desperate loners.
"Die Situation ist ernst, wir befinden uns im Krieg..." (cfr Zaimoglu/Senkel)
Five email questions from ZDF/3sat to LP:
Why have you chosen Shakespeare's "Othello" for the reopening of the Münchner Kammerspiele?
LP: Because Thomas Thieme wanted to act the part.
What's different about the adaptation by Feridun Zaimoglu and Günter Senkel?
LP: Their adaptation stresses the underlying themes. This play is not just about jealousy. More than anything else, it deals with fear of abandonment, fear of the unknown, fear of anything alien and of the uncertain future... Mortal fear is magnified. It forces man into a maze of delusions and robs him of his innocence.
Where do you place your accents? What makes this production unique?
LP: I'll only be able to answer that question on the 29th of March, when the play opens.
What is the purpose of the video diary?
LP: I use my camera during rehearsals to initiate direct communication with the actors. I then edit the highlights into my own video diary. Anyone who is interested can watch the recordings from the previous week on my website.
How do you feel about theatre on television?
LP: While theatre and television have little in common as media, they can be connected with one another if theatre adapts to the camera and vice versa. If not, it is usually quite painful to the eyes and the ears.
Act III. The play finally comes to life, a maelstrom of jealousy sets in motion, circling around Shakespeare's eternal theme: mortal fear.
How can you tell the story of this play without lapsing into superficial anecdotalism and simplistic moralism? The first two acts come across as an excessively long statement.
It's strange to direct the same play again almost 20 years on. How one's outlook on a play and on life changes.
The first week, the first meetings, the first steps on the rehearsal floor, the first time that you see the cast assembled, the first time that you hear the text... Everything is new and full of promise, like every beginning.