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Frantic Assemblys Adaptation of Othello

An Interactive Resource based on Frantic Assemblys Adaptation of Othello

Frantic Assembly

on 15 January 2015

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Transcript of Frantic Assemblys Adaptation of Othello

Images by Manuel Harlan


West Yorkshire

The Text

The Violence

The Handkerchief

Bibliography of Inspiration

As a company, Frantic have consistently tackled the modern notions of existence and the questions that face us as a contemporary culture. As well as the movement element inherent in the work, there is also the consideration of language and how it is used in communicating with an audience. In much of the earlier work, use of direct address was a strong indicator of the company's intention to make a direct link with the audience in terms of speech and language. In choosing to present a Shakespeare play, the challenge then is how to stay true to the language as written whilst at the same time refusing to use a form that, for many people, renders Shakespeare unwatchable, obsolete, boring, irrelevant, elitist.

The Violence
We wanted to capture the disgusting impact of real violence.

We were not interested in a sanitized TV version and eager to avoid the clichés of stage fighting.

Aimed for our heightened and choreographed physicality to have the impact of real violence.

Our challenge: how could we make the choreography feel real and true to the setting?

The Violence

How can we make it feel real for the audience?

It is not about the type of punch but the power of the impact.

Our aim was to create something different.

A gut response, a sickening feeling that makes you want to be anywhere else but here.

The Handkerchief
An Interactive Resource
for Students age 14+

Othello 2014: Adaptation

West Yorkshire
The Setting
A Northern pub.

This setting was a result of our reading Nick Davies’ harrowing book 'Dark Heart' (See Inspirations) particularly a section which describes tensions on a council estate in Leeds.

Following this we researched the 2001 West Yorkshire race riots which led to violence between white and asian groups.

This heightened racial tension, a volatile mix of white, asian and a much smaller black community began to present the setting of our story.
West Yorkshire
• Popular culture suggested that white kids were fixated with notions of black experience and identity, such as hip hop music and rap.

• Therefore it is neither impossible nor improbable that a black male could exist in a unique and privileged position. Until, of course, he attains a white girlfriend.
The Setting
The Text
Editing the Text

Research & Development
Actions speak louder than words

Moments for Movement
Editing the Text
Our ambition was to create a contemporary version that would run without an interval.

When editing the text we marked sections and then lines that could be cut.

Focusing on the main plot line.

Reducing a five act play into a single act, taking the text from 28,000 to 13,000.
The play presented us with a lot of fighting and opportunity to create movement in place of stage fighting.

No swords, just fists, bottles and pint glasses.

We developed and explored a movement quality that looked dangerous and authentic.

Research & Development
We needed to test our ideas out so we ran development workshops with actors.

These development workshops allowed us to:

hear our adapted text come off the page,

explore characters with actors,

experiment with movement as a storytelling technique over and in place of the text.

The Violence
The handkerchief was the most stubborn and difficult element in transporting Othello to a pub in West Yorkshire.

Its significance came from being a gift of love which represents Desdemona & Othello's union.

Our initial thoughts were to swap it for a baseball cap. A sign that Desdemona was Othello's girl. It was almost perfect.

However when adapting the text the substitution of 'cap' for 'handkerchief' created a whole raft of problems.

The three syllable word 'handkerchief' has such a presence within the last half of the play it resisted any attempts to replace it, and remains in tour production.

The Handkerchief
The Text
Introducing the world of our play
In communicating this story we found that actions speak louder than words. None more so than in the overture.

The overture allowed us to:

Set the scene

Introduce the characters

Identify their relationships with each other and their world
Bibliography of Inspiration
Boomerang, dir. Reginald Hudlin film http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103859/

The Seven Sins of England dir. Joe Bullman film



Othello, dir. Orson Welles film http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045251/

O dir. Tim Blake Nelson film http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0184791/

Othello, dir. Kenneth Branagh film http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114057/

Excorcist 3, dir. William Peter Blatty film http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099528/

Jurassic Park dir. Richard Attenborough film http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107290/

Othello, dir. Trevor Nunn film http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0357995/

This Is England, dir. Shane Meadows film http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0480025/

Romeo & Juliet dir. Baz Lehrmann film http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117509/

Grease dir. Randal Kleiser film http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077631/

Fight Club dir. David Fincher film http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0137523/

The Godfather 2 dir.Francis Ford Coppola http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071562/

Lassie dir. Charles Sturridge http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0431213/

Dark Heart by Nick Davies book http://www.nickdavies.net/books/
Perou photography http://www.perou.co.uk/

Manuel Harlan Production Images

Moments for Movement
The Overture
Moments for Movement
West Yorkshire
The Text
Hybrid musicians www.hybridsoundsystem.com

That's Not My Name by The Ting Tings
West Yorkshire Riots & Racial Segregation





Sons of Anarchy TV Series http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1124373/

Rising Damp TV Series http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rising_Damp

Full transcript