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Show and Tell: Othello (2001)
Introduction English Citizenship (1) Citizenship (2) Performing Arts  
Performing Arts
image from Othello (1961)
AuthorEmily Smith
Themestheatre and film, movement and dialogue, staging

Othello (2001) offers an interesting opportunity to explore and analyse the different techniques that actors employ on screen and in the theatre as well as a chance to consider the differences and similarities in terms of the way in which moving images and theatre engage an audience.

Perhaps begin by watching the extract Jealousy before leading a whole group discussion. What is going on in this scene? How is Ben Jago (Christopher Eccleston) trying to lead John Othello into suspecting his wife of infidelity? There is very little movement in this scene. How do the actors use their voices? What about the rhythm of their discussion? What other tools has the director been able to employ to create a certain mood - ie. lighting, set, shot composition (close ups etc.)?

You might want to go into this comparison in a little more detail. The director uses close ups and frames his shots using various perspectives. How does this impact on the audience's engagement with the characters? How is this different to the techniques employed in theatre in order to draw the audience's attention from one character to another? Can a theatre director 'frame' scenes? How?

Alternatively, ask students to work in pairs or small groups to come up with two short improvisations around the theme of jealousy. In one improvisation, ask them to concentrate on using language and dialogue with only a little movement. In the second improvisation, ask students to think about using movement and physical interaction to create a sense of jealousy and conflict. After watching selected improvisations as a class, ask students to discuss what they found difficult or rewarding about producing the two different scenes. Which scenes lend themselves to theatre and which to film? Or is this comparison irrelevant?