‘Othello’ is a moving must-see

August 16th, 2010

By Gracy Howard | 0 comments

BOISE — Shakespeare’s “Othello” is one of his most moving tragedies; it tells a poignant story of love, insecurity, and the poisonous influence of jealousy. As performed by the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, the play’s depth and beauty create a heartrending performance.

The beautifully crafted monologues, impressive modern sets and clever insertion of music made ISF’s performance both gripping and chilling. As the play drew to its close, its audience was spellbound and gripped with tension as they watched the action unfold. Few performances could deliver a tale so heartbreaking and eery with as much gravity and beauty, yet ISF has succeeded in performing the classic in a new and creative way that still touches the viewer.

The plot

Othello is a black military general in the Venetian army, honored and respected by the senate and renowned for his brave military exploits. When he passes over his right-hand man Iago and promotes Florentine Michael Cassio instead, Iago becomes bitter and jealous. He begins a plot to undo Othello, weaving a web of falsehood around the general. Preying upon the general’s love and insecurity, Iago convinces Othello that his wife Desdemona is unfaithful. By his clever machinations, Iago drives Othello into a jealous rage and convinces him that he must kill Desdemona. Other main characters include Iago’s wife, a clever, worldly woman who is passionately devoted to Desdemona and Roderigo, a bumbling and foolish gentleman of Venice who falls prey to Iago’s lies.

Shakespeare in the military

ISF portrayed “Othello” in modern times, using military uniforms, guns and bowie knives along with the steel structuring of modern buildings. The sets lend a clean-cut, cold aura to the play. The skeletal structure used as a main prop in the play has a rusted, worn look that constantly reminds the watcher of the wearing away of Othello’s character and sanity.

The music is used craftily to build suspense and tensity; used only in the beginning and during Iago’s dialogues, the brooding music has an ominous sound. A deep, throbbing rap beat is also used briefly during a celebration amongst the soldiers. Read more

Review: Idaho Shakespeare’s engrossing “Othello” explores dark emotions, wit and heartbreak

August 10th, 2010


By Dana Oland- Published 8/08/10

Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s engrossing production of “Othello” which opened Saturday night, delves deep beneath the well-known theme of jealousy.

Director Risa Brainin and her company uncover something more human, base and instinctual on which the tragedy turns. They point the finger at the doubt, fear, racism and unbridled ambition that feed the green-eyed monster.

Focusing on the emotional underpinnings of jealousy reveals each character’s fatal flaw. For Othello it is doubt; for Iago, ambition; and for Desdemona, her flirtation with danger.

Brainin, as is her habit, sets her “Othello” in a 21st century world. Guards are Secret Service agents, and soldiers wear the timeless modern military uniforms that are so familiar from CNN. The play opens with Iago, in a fevered state as he watches Cassio’s promotion play out over and over as if on the 24-hour news channel of his imagination. It haunts him and drives him to action.

David Anthony Smith gives a remarkable performance as the charmingly evil Iago. It’s a role he’s been hungry to play for some time now, and he feasts on it.

Iago is the most likable villain in Shakespeare’s universe, and Smith plays him with devilish charm. He oozes charisma and ironic humor while offering us a glimpse of a stewing, liquid evil that has probably always bubbled below the surface. Iago has suppressed his contempt for Othello over the years because it served his ambition to do so.

But this play is about the turning of the tide.  Read more

Idaho Shakespeare finds its ‘Othello’

August 6th, 2010

It’s a great tragedy of intimate proportions

-Idaho Statesman

Published 8/6/2010

To produce “Othello,” you must have one main ingredient in place: your Othello, says director Risa Brainin. She and Idaho Shakespeare Festival producing artistic director Charlie Fee had been talking about the play for a while, but without the right actor, it was a no go.

Then last summer, at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Fee saw actor David Alan Anderson. He knew he’d found their Othello. Coincidentally, Brainin had worked with Anderson several years ago in Indianapolis, where Anderson lives.

“Charlie said ‘Have you heard of this guy?’ and then it was like, ‘perfect,’ ” Brainin says.

This is Anderson’s second time as the Moorish general. Company stalwart David Anthony Smith will play Iago, the other half of the play’s tragic equation.

“Othello is the best general Venice has ever had,” Anderson says. “He’s a hired gun and he’s the only black man.”

This makes him the ultimate outsider, Brainin says. “The question is, can he ever be an insider?” Read entire article

Boise Weekly: Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband At Idaho Shakespeare Festival

July 27th, 2010

by Deanna Darr

Sean Harrigan, Robert Guicheteau, Dakotah Brown, Ian Rice- An Ideal Husband (2010) Photo by DKM Photography

If you have any questions about the true power of language in the hands of a master wordsmith, go see the Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s production of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, which opened on July 16. Nary a lingering doubt will cloud your mind after a few hours spent in the company of one of the most celebrated writers in the English language in the hands of one of Boise’s favorite theater company.

Actually, go see it even if you just want a good laugh and an enjoyable evening under the stars.

It’s hard not to be impressed by the fact that even after more than 100 years since the play’s debut in London in 1895, the sentiment still rings so true that it isn’t challenging for a modern audience to get the joke. It’s a testament to the fact that Wilde not only had a rare understanding of his peers, but of the very root of what drives mankind.

“I love talking about nothing,” says Lord Goring (played by ISF regular David Anthony Smith), “It’s the only thing I know anything about.” Read more

Review: Idaho Shakespeare Festival skillfully produces ‘An Ideal Husband’

July 27th, 2010

Published 07/19/10

David Anthony Smith*, Laura Perrotta*, An Ideal Husband (2010) Photo by DKM Photography *Member Actors’ Equity

You’d think something would have changed in the 115 years since Oscar Wilde penned “An Ideal Husband,” but sadly no. Politics is still corrupt; men and women still hold each other to impossible standards; and social pressure is always a great motivator.

And no one captures it as well as Wilde does in what is one of his sharpest plays, which opened at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival Saturday.

Director Sari Ketter’s deftly crafted production places Wilde’s comedy against Nayna Ramey’s minimalist set of simple stairs and platforms, carved round-backed chairs and a few tables, moved about by a fleet of butlers.

Jason Resler’s period costumes are lush and elegant, with men’s long coats, beautiful ladies hats and a delightful variety of wigs. One lovely detail is the backs of the butlers’ coats, decorated by a plethora of bright, gold buttons.  Read more

Best of Treasure Valley Performing Arts Group!

July 16th, 2010


There’s no doubt that the Treasure Valley loves its Shakespeare.

Since its beginnings on the patio at One Capitol Center, the Idaho Shakespeare Festival has grown into a nationally recognized theater that has been reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

Much of its appeal is that you don’t have to be an avid classical theater fan to enjoy a show, because the experience is so much more. Read more

Katie Willmorth makes her company debut in ‘An Ideal Husband’

July 16th, 2010

By Dana Oland –

When Katie Willmorth was 4, she sat besides her dad, Idaho Shakespeare Festival funnyman Tom Willmorth, watching a technical rehearsal for “As You Like It.” That’s when the once transient ISF performed off ParkCenter Boulevard.

During a break, Katie asked if she could go on stage. Tom told her she needed permission from director Bartlett Sher.

“She toddled over to Bart and asked,” Tom remembered. “And he looked at her for a moment, then said, ‘Sure, but be careful. It’s magic.'” Well, the magic of theater has been part of Katie’s life since she can remember. Read More

Meet the real Bat Boy: Mitch McCarrell

July 14th, 2010

A Cleveland Actor takes on the role and grows up a little at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.

By Dana Oland-

Looking younger than you are always is a blessing. And it has been for actor and singer Mitch McCarrell, who has played more than his share of fresh-faced, energetic teenagers.

Take, for example, his current starring role as Edgar (aka Bat Boy) in the Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Bat Boy: The Musical.”

OK, maybe Edgar – a half bat, half boy who is discovered living in a cave outside of Hope Falls, W.Va. – isn’t so fresh of face. There are fangs and pointy ears. But McCarrell’s energized and layered performance elevates the character beyond the obvious and into the realm of heartfelt.

He’s also playing his first adult character in his ISF debut: Starveling, the nattily dressed, persnickety tailor in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Now, to be fair, Starveling is still boyish and given to a tight-lipped tantrum or two. But still, it’s progress, he says.

He’s been playing the two characters in repertory this summer. “Midsummer” and “Bat Boy” both wrap up later this month.

Q: Who is Edgar, the Bat Boy? How did you create your character?

A: You will find that the show constantly references popular culture. (And so does Edgar.)

Edgar is a rock and roll vampire. Fed by his host mother’s love (and by an occasional live varmint), he is taught the way of the world. Read full article

Voices from the Company: Sara Bruner, Acting Company

July 6th, 2010

Tuesday, July 6th

We have two shows up and two shows in rehearsal- things are getting crazy.  Some actors are only performing in the evenings, some are rehearsing all day, then performing at night; and others (like me) are rehearsing in the afternoons and evenings.  Those of us who are in rehearsal spend the day bouncing around to different “calls”.  We go back and forth between An Ideal Husband and Othello, and also have extra “specialized” calls added in for costume fittings and to learn fights, dances, and music.  I’m especially excited about the music rehearsal because we have a composer who is writing original music for Othello– so my (Desdemona’s) “Willow” song is exclusively composed for our production!  One of my favorite things about the theater is the level of collaboration that takes place.  The audience is essentially viewing the tip of the iceberg when they come to see a performance- as actors we are the most visible aspect of a show- but we stand on the shoulders of many fellow artists and administrators that are pieces of a complicated equation.

I have been studying my Othello lines all morning, and I’m looking forward to getting in the rehearsal hall an moving around a little and putting things into action.  The first blocking rehearsal that we did for Othello was the final scene in which —–SPOILER ALERT—- Othello strangles me.  It was a really hard scene to try to tackle first, but I feel more fearless now because we went head to head with a tough scene in the beginning.  I also have some Ideal Husband rehearsal today- the entire show is blocked and we are just polishing it right now.  Aled Davies, one of our long time company members, is the dialect coach for An Ideal husband.  We have been training hard trying to perfect the sound of this show- it’s Oscar Wilde so we are all getting on the same page with our British RP (received pronunciation).  All of us have done RP before, but it is a skill that you need to drill constantly in order to perform at the top your game.  Aled has been great and we are making good progress.

More to come!

Sara B.

Mayor Bieter announces recipients of Arts & History Economic Development grants

July 2nd, 2010

June 29, 2010

Mayor David Bieter today announced the recipients of the City’s Arts & History Economic Development Grant program.  The four winning organizations are Ballet Idaho, the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, Boise Contemporary Theater and Idaho Shakespeare Festival.  Read more

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