Pop Up Globe – Othello Experience

Posted on March 28, 2017

On Thursday 23 March, The Extension Studies programme sent 50 scholarship English students and three English teachers to witness the incredible event that is the Pop-Up Globe performance of Shakespeare’s Othello.

Othello is arguably one of Shakespeare’s most timeless tragedies; an examination of the extremes of human nature. Iago, the disguised ‘devil’ on Earth, poisons the black general Othello’s mind with insinuations that his newlywed wife is unfaithful. Othello sharply descends into insanity, and leaves a bloody trail of destruction stoppered only by his death.

The Pop Up Globe cast of actors and actresses staged an intensely engaging production. Entrances onstage were frequently made by barging through startled spectators. Iago kept smouldering eye contact with a select few during soliloquies. Othello emptied the liquid contents of a wine tanker into a squealing crowd. Roderigo clapped his hand on a student’s shoulder and hilariously asked her: “Do you want to buy some land?” The rousing music, drunken singing and clapping during Act 2 Scene 3 mimicked the energy and noise levels of a rugby final.

All of the students could agree that the Pop-Up Globe production burst traditional conventions with fresh interpretation. A Kiwi and undeniably spiritual twist was introduced with the hongi, and the racial diversity of the cast reflected Auckland society. One climactic reinterpretation had a battered and bloody Iago winched, upside-down by the feet, through an opening in the roof - as Cassio remarked, to be judged by heaven.

Each student left the theatre feeling exhilarated and inspired. This experience will be beneficial to enriching their understanding of the text, and ultimately their external scholarship exam in December.

Our thanks must go to the Extension Studies programme for making this trip, and the written script, a reality.