Menu

Othello:
The Remix

March 12

August 4, 2013

Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare

a hip-hop adaptation of
William Shakespeare’s Othello
written, directed and music by GQ and JQ
developed with Rick Boynton

The Story

Shakespeare's story of Othello...

Desdemona, a young aristocrat of Venice, has just eloped with Othello, a hired general in the Venetian army—and a Moor. Roderigo, lovesick for Desdemona, is assured by Iago that he, too, harbors hatred for the Moor, who has promoted Cassio over him as lieutenant. Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, seeks the full justice of Venetian law, but the Duke is concerned with pressing affairs of state: the Turks threaten Venetian interests in Cyprus, and the Moor’s service is required. Othello prepares to embark for Cyprus with his new bride. Iago plots to make Othello believe that the young Venetian officer Cassio is Desdemona’s lover. Ensnaring Cassio in a drunken brawl, Iago looks on as Othello predictably dismisses his new lieutenant. Iago urges Cassio to seek Desdemona’s aid in recovering Othello’s favor, then suggests to Othello that his wife’s interest in Cassio’s misfortunes may signify her infidelity. Demanding “ocular proof,” Othello is convinced when his first gift to Desdemona, a handkerchief, is misplaced and, with help from Iago’s wife Emilia, ends up in Cassio’s possession. For service to his general, Iago is appointed Othello’s new lieutenant. Stunned by her husband’s accusations, Desdemona pleads with Othello—first for his compassion, then for her life. As Emilia comes to understand her husband’s crimes, she is murdered for the truth she dares to speak. Tormented by remorse and grief, Othello takes his own life.

...is remixed into...

Against all odds, MC Othello escapes the ghetto by giving rhythm and voice to the stories of the people in his hood. As he rises to the top of the music industry, he is living proof of the “American dream.” Othello falls in love with Desdemona, a beautiful singer whose vocals add the final piece that catapults him to stardom. They marry, despite her aristocratic father’s disapproval, and are sent by Loco Vito, the CEO of the record label, on a national tour. Other members of the crew include Cassio, a glitzy pop music rapper, and Iago, a hardcore underground lyricist and hip hop purist. Othello decides to release Cassio’s album next in an effort to reach a wider audience. Angered by this decision, Iago vows to take Othello down. He enlists the help of Roderigo, the nerdy, socially awkward lighting designer on tour—and in love with Desdemona. With a promise to win him the heart of the one he loves, Iago steals Roderigo’s money and sells him on his plan to remove Cassio from the group. Meanwhile, Iago continues to plant seeds of jealousy in Othello about a fabricated affair between Desdemona and Cassio. Further upset by Cassio’s bizarre behavior at an important album release event, Othello kicks him out of the group. Iago convinces Roderigo to kill Cassio. Roderigo bungles the murder attempt and Iago, worried that his plan will be uncovered, kills Roderigo himself. Othello, now on the brink of insanity, flies into a jealous rage and murders his love, Desdemona. Iago’s wife Emilia enters to find her friend dead, and reveals the truth of her husband’s evil plot. In the wake of this overpowering news, Othello takes his own life.

Back to Othello: The Remix

Additional Pages