Othello At The Old Globe

It’s an age-old story:

Man marries woman over her father’s vehement objections. Man promotes one staff member over another and the guy who was passed over is TICKED off.

And he’s kind of an evil, untrustworthy jerk.

To get his revenge, the jerk sets into motion a series of events not caring who gets mowed down in the process.

Murder, murder, murder. Abject remorse. Suicide. And, curtain.

That pretty much sums up Shakespeare’s Othello.

Othello at The Old Globe Theater

Before attending Saturday night’s performance of Othello at The Old Globe Theater in San Diego, I had to do a little internet surfing to brush up on the plot.

I’m more of a math and science gal than a literature gal. I can remember things from high school Biology (plasmodium causes malaria) and Geometry (the area of a circle = pi times r2 ) but English Lit? Not so much.

This production of Othello at The Old Globe Theater in San Diego featured the dreamy Blair Underwood as Othello and Richard Thomas (John Boy from the Waltons, remember him?) as the evil Iago. Both very, very talented actors, these guys did not disappoint in their roles.

Funny story: before attending the play, Peter and I went to dinner at our favorite “avant theater” restaurant, Cucina Urbana. Seated at the table next to us was an attractive young couple. We overheard them talking to our waiter saying that Mr. Young Couple’s parents would be joining them for dinner but that Mr. Young Couple had to head to the theater because he was performing in a play that evening.

Turns out that Mr. Young Couple was performing in Othello as Cassio, one of the few empathetic characters in the play. Adorable and an excellent actor.

Now you might have gleaned from this story that Shakespeare is not really my thing.

And you would be correct.

But there are two aspects I enjoy about attending theater productions by the Bard of Avon (aka Shakespeare).

First, I love trying to pick out the phrases written by Mr. Bill that have made their way into our everyday language.

Did you know that “jealousy, the green-eyed monster”, “a foregone conclusion” and “wear you heart on your sleeve” are from Othello?

Pretty cool, eh?

I also love, love, love seeing plays at the Old Globe’s outdoor theater. This open air arena was designed to resemble The Old Globe Theater in London. It is such a fun place to see a play. The infinite ceiling and wooded backdrop provide incredible opportunities for interesting theatrical staging.

THe Old Globe Theater San Diego

I wish I could show you the interesting staging but photos were prohibited during the show and I am a pathological rule follower.

If you are ever in San Diego during the summer and have the opportunity to see Shakespeare performed in the outdoor theater at The Old Globe – do it! You will not regret it.

Two unique things about this place:

The theater backs up to the famous San Diego Zoo and every once in a while the actors on stage have to improvise to compete with the roars of the nearby lions or calls from their neighbors, the chimps.

The theater is also very near the flight path for the San Diego International Airport. Trying to stay in character as a 16th century bad guy is hard enough if someone’s cell phone starts ringing. Imagine having to compete with the sound of Southwest flight #4585 arriving from Las Vegas.

The Old Globe Theater production of Othello closes on July 27th. I’m so glad that we had an opportunity to see this wonderful production and to cross another thing off our California To Do List.

Enjoy this interview with Blair Underwood as he describes the challenges and joys of performing in a Shakespearean play.

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  1. Sound like a great dose of culture! What a cast! Very interesting about today’s phrases that come from Othello…
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  2. “Dreamy” is the perfect word to describe Blair Underwood. I remember watching him on . . . what was the Law show? Anyway, didn’t know that there was a replica of The Globe anywhere, so this is interesting. You’ve made “Mr. Bill” even more fascinating!
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  3. Blair Underwood?! Isn’t he the guy from LA Law years ago?
    I’m with you – math & science are my thing!!!
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  4. Ah! Well I AM an English major and I love Shakespeare so I loved this post. I have a sister who lives in Carlsbad and she has never shared the fact that there’s a Globe Theater in San Diego – she’s even, of course, picked me up several times at the San Diego Airport (one of my very favorite airports to land in – the Spanish roofed tiles of the city below, Coronado Island bridge spanning out over the harbor – the Pacific right there….need I add more? I always feel like I’m landing in Italy or something….

    And yes, I so agree with how many well known phrases Shakespeare “stole.” People are amazed at how he did that.
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  5. I never really enjoyed reading Shakepeare, but his plots were timeless, weren’t they? I have a feeling that if he wrote modern day, I would probably enjoy him. The production sounds wonderful!
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    • Interesting thought, Michelle. Maybe I, too, would enjoy Mr. Shakespeare’s works more if he wrote in modern times in modern language. I’m sure that Shakespeare fans would say that is blasphemy and the the language is everything. Different strokes for different folks!

  6. OMGeeeeee!! I would LOVE to do this!! Seeing Old Billy’s plays actually *is* up my alley, but to get to see them outside with the promise of a roaring lion in the background every now and then…I’m SOLD! Add the dreamy Blair Underwood and John Boy to the mix and you can’t hold me back. BOY do I wish I was there (or just in San Diego in general, of course)! What a great time! (and I am always amazed to see what phrases from Shakespeare have made it into our everyday language. FUN!) –Lisa
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  7. I visited San Diego for the first time this past winter and got to see the Old Globe from the outside- such a neat location. I’d love to see a show there. At the time they were doing “Grinch”, which is a show I’ve done myself here in NYC at MSG, so I didn’t need to see it again 😉
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    • Hahaha! I can see why you didn’t feel the need to see it again. But you are right. The Old Globe is in a great location in Balboa Park. They have three different theater: on traditional, one small theater in the round and the outdoor theater. All are fabulous!
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  8. So, I am dying to know…. did you pack a flask? 🙂 Seriously though… it sounds like a really cool pace to watch a play!
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  9. I enjoyed this post much more than I’m sure I would have enjoyed a Shakespeare play. Sorry, Bill just doesn’t do it for me. Throw in lions and jets, though, and sounds like an awesome night!
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  10. This looks really cool-anything outdoors is good in my book. I would love to visit San Diego one day!
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