Royal thespians take on Othello

The Old Royalists’ Association of Dramatis (ORAD) will present 'Othello' as a theatre piece in celebration of the 175th anniversary of their school

Putting together one of Shakespear’s plays has been a good omen of sorts for Royal College. According to the team, each time Royal College performed excerpts from 'Othello', one of Shakespear’s well known tragedies, they’ve been in the top three at the finals. The play, as a full length production has not been performed in Sri Lanka for quite some time now; which gave the team more reason to take on the challenge of producing it.

The director, Thushara Hettihamau, explains that the original script extends for 3 to 4 hours. “We’ve made some heart rendering but necessary changes to the script. We are all purist at heart so we tried to stick to the original script as much as possible,” says Thushara.

Describing their production he says, “The play is minimalistic and most of the changes are cinematic, so the audience snaps from one scene to the next”.

“Initially we started out with contemporary plays”, he says speaking about why ORAD chose to stage Othello. “What prompted us to go with Othello is that everyone understood the play. It’s very relevant and can be played out beautifully.”

He goes on to say that the cast and crew work full time, which means rehearsal start at 8pm and can go on till 2am, which is where the dedication of the cast and crew holds the production together.

The cast consists of some of Sri Lanka’s best known thespians. Some of the cast consists of Arjuna Wignaraja who plays the lead role of Othello, while the calculating villain- Iago is played by Mohamed Adamally and Desdemona, Othello’s loyal wife, is portrayed by Thanuja Jayawardena. Thanoja is one of the three guest stars among the all-Royalists cast; who will be playing the female roles. The other two female roles will be played by Shannon Misso and Ashini Fernando.

Thanoja describes Desdemona as woman who is absolute. “She is a strong character, and firmly believes in what she thinks is right”. Speaking about his character Arujuna says, “From where we started to where we are now, Othello has evolved”, expressing “Othello has been put into situations. He’s losing his mind. With the changes in the script, the character has been pushed beyond the traditional role.”

“The role was a challenge,” says Adamally, “Iago is a fantastic challenge and it’s thrilling trying to make it work”. The play will be staged at the Lionel Wendt from July 29 - 31 and on August 1.

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