Odyssey Theatre Ensemble to Othello
"'Tis the soldiers' life. To have their balmy slumbers waked by strife." Three of L.A.'s most venerable artistic directors come together when Odyssey Theatre Ensemble (Ron Sossi, artistic director) and The New American Theatre (Jack Stehlin, artistic director) present a bold new production of Shakespeare's Othello, directed by Rogue Machine artistic director John Perrin Flynn. The modern dress production, starring Stehlin as Iago opposite A Martinez in the title role, opens for press on Oct. 17 at the Odyssey Theatre in West L.A.
Tragic events are set in motion when Othello, commander of the Venetian army, makes the handsome and charismatic Cassio his lieutenant, bypassing his ensign Iago for promotion. Consumed by envy, his resentment fueled by his knowledge that Cassio has never seen battle, Iago plots his revenge. In this riveting psychological drama, we see how social order, racial politics and the stress of a soldier's life combine to push Iago over the edge, as he coldly calculates the destruction of Othello and Othello's young wife Desdemona. "Othello is set on an army base in occupied territory," says Flynn. "The Venetians conquered Cypress from the Turks. When we put Shakespeare's characters in contemporary uniform, we suddenly recognize this as a story about military life and what that life can do to someone. We still live in the same world today, we still deal with the same issues. Othello remains relevant because nothing has changed. Shakespeare had such a modern understanding of how people interrelate." According to Flynn, he has always wanted to direct Othello and knew he had found his Iago when he saw Stehlin's LA Weekly Award-nominated performance in last year's Odyssey/New American Theatre co-production of Creditors. As an actor, Stehlin is perhaps best known as DEA Capt. Roy Till on the Showtime series Weeds, as well as for his long history with Shakespeare at the Public Theater and critically acclaimed Odyssey/New American Theatre productions of Hamlet, Macbeth and Richard III. Part Mexican and part Native American, veteran actor Martinez (Longmire, Santa Barbara, The Bold and The Beautiful, LA Law, etc.) takes on the role of the steadfast general whom passion seemingly "cannot shake" - until the powder keg simmering beneath his surface is ignited by the cunning Iago. Also in the cast are Anna DiGiovanni (Lost Girls at Rogue Machine) as Desdemona; Robb Derringer (The Time Of Your Life, Of Mice And Men, The Blue Dahlia and Prelude To A Kiss at Pacific Resident Theatre, where he is a company member) as Michael Cassio; Susan Wilder (King Lear with Christopher Plummer at Lincoln Center) as Iago's wife and unwitting accomplice, Emila; Marc Jablon (Bedfellows with The New American Theatre) as Iago's dupe, Roderigo; Peter Van Norden (The Liar at Antaeus, Top Secret: The Battle for Pentagon Papers for L.A. Theatre Works in N.Y. and China) as Desdemona's father, Brabantio; and Kate Parkin (Helena in New American Theatre/Odyssey's A Midsummer Night's Dream) as Cassio's lover, Bianca. Military personnel include Ron Bottitta (Rank, The Arsonists and Theatre in the Dark at the Odyssey) as Gratiano; James Liebman (Daytime EMMY Award-winning web series mIpromise) as Lodovico; Wendy Radford (God Only Knows at Theatre 40) as the council leader; and Spencer Rowe (title role in Andronicus for Coeurage Theatre Co.) as Montano. Bryson Jones Allman (Shakespeare by the Sea), Brendan Gill (Much Ado About Nothing with the Colonials: An American Shakespeare Company) and Nick Marini (upcoming indie feature film Still Life) round out the ensemble as soldiers. Set design for Othello is by Stephanie Kerley Schwartz; lighting design is by Leigh Allen; costume design is by Elizabeth A. Cox; original music is composed by Roger Bellon; violence designer is Ned Mochel; assistant directors are Amy Borsuk and Ilana Rozin; and stage manager is Alexx Zachary. Ron Sossi and Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin produce. Performances of Othello take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., Oct. 17 through Dec. 14, except Sunday, Oct. 19 which will be at 5 p.m. with no 2 p.m. matinee. Additional weeknight performances are scheduled on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Nov. 5, Nov. 19 and Dec. 3; and on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on Oct. 23, Oct. 30 and Nov. 13. Tickets are $30 on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and $34 on Saturdays and Sundays. There will be four pay-what-you-can (minimum $10) performances on Thursday, Oct. 23; Wednesday, Nov. 5; Friday, Nov. 14 and Friday, Nov. 28. The third Friday of every month is wine night at the Odyssey: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to www.OdysseyTheatre.com.