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Plot Summary

Othello the Moor, a general employed by the Venetian state, has secretly married Desdemona, a daughter of the senator Brabantio. Iago, an ensign nursing resentment against Othello, enlists the help of Rodorigo, a disappointed suitor of Desdemona. They wake Brabantio in the middle of the night with the news of his daughter's elopement. Brabantio takes the case to the senate where, learning that she has married Othello of her own accord, he disowns his daughter. Othello is immediately ordered to the Venetian colony of Cyprus to repel a threatened Turkish invasion. Desdemona sails with her husband, taking with them her companion Emilia, who is also Iago's wife, and Othello's lieutenant Michael Cassio, newly promoted over Iago's head. Once in Cyprus, Iago plants the suspicion in Othello's mind that Desdemona has been unfaithful to him with Cassio. He engineers a drunken brawl for which Cassio is blamed and dismissed by Othello. Desdemona intercedes on Cassio's behalf but her constant pleas to Othello for his reinstatement only serve to convince Othello that Cassio is her lover. Iago acquires a treasured handkerchief that belonged to Desdemona and uses it as 'proof' of the affair. Increasingly maddened by jealousy, Othello orders Iago to kill Cassio and strangles Desdemona himself. Emilia discloses her husband's plot and Othello, tormented by grief and remorse, kills himself. Iago, after murdering his own wife, is left to the justice of the Venetian state.

RSC Staging History 1960-2007

1961 RST: Franco Zeffirelli
Franco Zeffirelli (sets), Peter J. Hall (costumes); Brian Priestman (music); John Barton (fights)

John Gielgud (Othello), Ian Bannen (Iago), Dorothy Tutin (Desdemona), Peggy Ashcroft (Emilia), Brian Murray (Cassio), Paul Hardwick (Roderigo), Newton Blick (Brabantio), Clifford Rose (Gratiano), David Buck (Montano), Colin Blakely (Duke of Venice), Tony Church (Lodovico), Patsy Byrne (Bianca), Gareth Morgan (Montano Officer), William Wallis (Soldier)

1971 RST/1972 Japanese Tour/1972 Aldwych: John Barton
Julia Trevelyan Oman (design); John Bradley/Brian Harris (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)

Brewster Mason (Othello), Emrys James (Iago), Lisa Harrow (Desdemona), Elizabeth Spriggs/Heather Canning (Emilia), David Calder (Cassio), Roger Rees (Roderigo), Jeffery Dench/Denis Holmes (Brabantio), Michael Shannon (Gratiano), Anthony Langdon (Montano), Morgan Sheppard (Duke of Venice), Anthony Pedley (Lodovico), Lynn Dearth (Bianca), Alison Fiske (Gentlewoman), Miles Anderson (Soldier), Bernard Lloyd (Second Officer), Ted Valentine (Senetor), Jeremy Sinden/Nickolas Grace (Venetian Officer)

1979 RST/1980 Aldwych: Ronald Eyre
Pamela Howard (design); Brian Harris (lighting); Stephen Oliver (music)

Donald Sinden (Othello), Bob Peck (Iago), Suzanne Bertish (Desdemona), Susan Tracy (Emilia), James Laurenson (Cassio), John McEnery (Roderigo), Jeffery Dench (Brabantio), Norman Tyrrell (Gratiano), Gareth Thomas (Montano), Willoughby Goddard (Duke of Venice), Jeffery Dench (Lodovico), Shirley King (Bianca), Cathryn Harrison (Gentlewoman)

1985 RST/1986 Barbican: Terry Hands
Ralph Koltai (sets), Alexander Reid (costumes); Terry Hands, Clive Morris (lighting); Nigel Hess (music)

Ben Kingsley (Othello), David Suchet (Iago), Niamh Cusack (Desdemona), Janet Dale (Emilia), Tom Mannion (Cassio), Gerard Logan (Roderigo), Joseph O'Conor (Brabantio), Paul Webster (Gratiano), Brian Horstead (Montano), Trevor Martin (Duke of Venice), Roger Llewellyn (Lodovico), Penny Ryder (Bianca), John Nolan (First Gentleman), Keith Osborn (Second Gentleman), Max Gold (Third Gentleman), Arnold Yarrow (Clown)

1989 TOP/1989 Young Vic: Trevor Nunn
Bob Crowley (design); Chris Parry, Robert A. Jones (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)

Willard White (Othello), Ian McKellen (Iago), Imogen Stubbs (Desdemona), Zoë Wannamaker (Emilia), Sean Baker (Cassio), Michael Grandage (Roderigo), Clive Swift (Brabantio/Gratiano), Philip Sully (Montano), John Burgess (Duke of Venice/Lodovico), Marsha Hunt (Bianca), Brian Lawson (First Senator), David Hounslow (First Cyprus Soldier)

1999 RST/1999-00 Barbican: Michael Attenborough
Robert Jones (design); Peter Mumford (lighting); George Fenton (music)

Ray Fearon (Othello), Richard McCabe (Iago), Zoë Waites (Desdemona), Rachel Joyce (Emilia), Henry Ian Cusick (Cassio), Aidan McArdle (Roderigo), Richard Cordery (Brabantio), Graeme Eton (Gratiano), Colin Mace (Montano), Geoffrey Whitehead (Duke of Venice) Peter Reeves (Lodovico), Catherine Kanter (Bianca), Graham Ingle (First Senator), Andrew Bone (Second Senator), John Sackville (First Soldier), Ben Elliot (First Messenger), Orlando Wells (Second Messenger)

2004 Swan/2004 Japanese Tour/2004 Trafalgar Studios at the Whitehall: Gregory Doran
Stephen Brimson Lewis (design); Tim Mitchell (lighting); Adrian Lee (music)

Sello Maake ka-Ncube (Othello), Antony Sher (Iago), Lisa Dillon (Desdemona), Amanda Harris (Emilia), Justin Avoth (Cassio), Mark Lockyer (Roderigo), Ken Bones (Brabantio/Gratiano), Charles Abomeli (Montano), Clifford Rose (Duke of Venice) Vincent Brimble (Lodovico), Nathalie Armin (Bianca), Edward Clayton (Senator), Barry Aird, Peter Bramhill, Jonathan Duff, Paul O'Mahony (Soldiers), Viss Elliot (Lady)