tragedy of Othello by Shakespeare was written in the sixteenth century around 1603-1604. This play covers the destruction of the marriage of a young Venetian known as Desdemona and a Moor, Othello. Even though the title of this tragedy shows that it took place in Venice, it occurred in both Venice and Cyprus. Even though that area is predominantly occupied with actions of love and Venus, it leads to events that cause the negative or the violent side of the characters to come out. For instance, the malicious Lago prompts Othello into jealousy. Due to this reason, he strangles his innocent wife on their marital bed and kills himself when the deception of Lago is exposed.
This short synopsis of the play was necessary to go deep into the thesis that will be discussed in the paper. Many different studies and deductions made of the play focus on the gender and especially the racial aspects of the play. However, Cyprus itself has never attained the scrutiny that it readily needs. Even though the play itself was directed and made for this area, this choice of setting is not criticized or even focused very carefully for that matter. Four acts of the play and the main tragedy of Othello is dramatized in Cyprus. Keeping this in mind, this setting and place is very important in the discussion of the play.
Even though the focus is placed on the treatment of space, genre, race and the martial bedroom, it is seen that Cyprus should be the center of all the discussions. This paper will bring the discussion of Cyprus in the limelight by interpreting the intersexual exchange between the text written by the author and two productions of the play. Othello was provisioned by Cypriot directors George Rodosthenous and Nikos Charalambous. These two productions and the impact of differing directorial approaches will be discussed in detail. The discussion will therefore revolve around how the intertextuality between Shakespeare's and the two theatrical versions of Othello constitutes intercultural exchange.
Intertextual analysis is differentiated from source criticism by the establishment of certain facts and lack of interpretation of these texts. It should be noted that Othellos was directed by Nikos Charalambous and was performed in Cyprus at the Cyprus thetatre Organization (Thoc)Later on, this play was translated into Greek such that it could be adapted to the stage. It was noted here that the language and the acts of the play were modernized to quite an extent. For instance, slang and everyday language was added onto the play. Furthermore, Othello's Revenge was in English language and it only kept six characters from the original piece that was created by Shakespeare. In this instance, the director was George Rodosthenous who teaches at the University of Leeds.
Keeping this in mind, it should be seen that the difference in the outward context of the play were quite prominent. The contexts pertaining to the cultural formation and the sociohistorical aspect of the two different productions was also very relevant. Even though the story and the character of both these plays were similar, the context of where it was taking place was associated with the cultural and the social background of the area. In 2011, Othello's Revenge was performed whereas Othellos was performed in the year 2010. It is seen that this year was quite significant for the country as it marked 50 years of independence from Britain.
Keeping this mind, it is seen that where Shakespearean stories and plays are quite prominent in their birthplace, the UK; it is also used as a route of celebration in other countries as well. Interestingly enough, a very bold text such as Othello was specifically translated into Greek and then staged in Cyprus to celebrate the independence from British. Employing Othello therefore depicted the gradual disintegration of the main character and his enslavement to Lago's position to celebrate the independence of Cyprus. This performance and the baseline story behind it hints and signals towards an intertextual complexity that was specific to the actual reality of the country. Even mentioned by the director of the theatrical organization, it is stated that the density of words, significations, scenes and conflicts are quite relevant to the history of the country. He mentioned that the phrases and the scenes come out towards the audience in such a way that they are able to relate very clearly.
Link with Cyprus's Independence
This play therefore as chosen as the choice to celebrate the independence of the country because of the way it brought out the tragic memory of the natives and how it led to conflict for them. Ever since the ancient times, Cyprus has been colonized by many different nations. The Romans, Byzantine Empire, Franks, and Ottomans.
Similarly, it is seen that Othello's Revenge is also intermingled with historical moments and thus it pertains to some cultural significance. The play clearly enacts a conflict or a misunderstanding between the East and the West. The conflict was establishing because of different perceptions to revenge held by the East and the West. This conflict between the East and the West has been prominent not only in case of Cyprus but in many other global conflicts as well. Even in the play, it is shown that the Western attitude is more barbaric and more bloodthirsty. It goes on to attain moral justice through its own means and thus the West decides how conflict will be resolved or dealt with. Discussing this within the context of Cyprus, it is seen that the UN forces still separate the Cypriot side from the occupied Military base area in Akrotiri. These shows that even today, there are some remnants of the British colonialism on the island. The presence of international forces show that the problem is not completely resolved but is covered and muted from time to time.
Building up on this idea, it is also seen that the West does try to impose and dominate in the conflicts that arise anywhere in the world. For instance, this attitude was seen in Cyprus in the 1970s and in the Balkans in the 1990s. Just recently, this attitude is seen Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas in the Middle East. Even though the international forces are still there, there is no resolution as such. There are killings, bombings and drone attacks frequently but no solution is coming out from any of these occupations. The Western forces have merely conquered and taken over these areas.
Theme of Displacement highlighted
Both of these productions therefore bring out important cultural and historical events in the East especially Cyprus. It goes on to show how perceive injustice can cause a person to turn violent and commit acts of crime. In Othello's revenge, the directors were really focused to bring out the idea of importance within a corporation. In other words, many people consider their work performance and their position at their job very important. When Othello is about to give Cassio the promotion, he looks at Lago first. The simple idea of injustice and displacement is brought about in this version of the play. Even in Thoc's production of the play, the notion of displacement is quite prominent when actors move around on different chairs. This also highlighted the Cypriot concept of careers in which everyone has their own position that can be taken up by other people. Overall, the play focuses around the idea of conquer and of displacement. The storyline and especially the character of Lago are quite focused on official, domestic, geographical and even sexual displacement.
The original play Othello is domestic tragedy. However, Othello's Revenge on the other hand focuses more on a revenge tragedy. It shows how the barbaric attitude of a person who has been wronged can lead to chaos and destruction. In this version of the play, the director insisted that revenge as a theme was highlighted more after it became a part of the title. A major difference in this production of Othello was that a sense of punishment and revenge was enacted by Cassio. The idea of mutilation and revenge as such is prominent more in the dialogues the characters have as oppose to blunt acts by the characters.
Venice and Cyprus
In the other production of Othello, the name of the play is the character Othello and no description is given otherwise. It is seen that in this production of Othello, the gender politics of the original play are destabilized. In Thoc's production, the role of Lago is played by a very popular actress. The cunningness and the sharpness are portrayed through a female. It should be noted that in Shakespeare Othello, the imaginative environment of the play is created by the configuration of Venice and Cyprus. In one way, it symbolizes the geography of the play. These two places are contrasting and hence provide with the contrasting extremes of the plot. Venice is considering more of a place of love, order and civility. There is a…