Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Othello coming to Intiman

The Seattle Times reports today that Intiman has added William Shakespeare's Othello to its 2009 season lineup, and that artistic director Bart Sher will direct. In addition, Misha Berson writes that Sher will spread himself ever thinner, taking on the role of resident director of the Lincoln Center Theatre in New York, where he's staged productions of Light in the Piazza and South Pacific recently.

'Twas a time a production of Othello would have been welcome news. But we've decided that the Moor's story isn't exactly among our favorites among Shakespeare's oeuvre, and frankly Weisenheimer is awfully tired of Sher. We love the Bard, and Sher started out his reign at Intiman with a bang, giving us solid productions of seldom-performed Shakespeare plays, Cymbeline in 2001 and Titus Andronicus in 2002. Sher also has directed other good shows, including Arms and the Man in 2002, Three Sisters in 2005, and Uncle Vanya in 2007.

But things also started going askew at Intiman in 2002, with horrible productions of Nickel & Dimed and Scapin, followed in '03 by the criminally overrated Light in the Piazza and the dismal 21 Dog Years. It was after the lackluster 2003 season that Weisenheimer dropped our subscription to Intiman, which had been an annual Christmas present to my Sweetie, the scorer, for a dozen years, way back to our courtin' days. The final straw that broke our opinion of Sher beyond repair was his utterly botched Richard III in 2006. It didn't help that we'd seen Richard at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2005, and Weisenheimer still rates this as best theater production ever.

Vanya was good last year, and this year's A Streetcar Named Desire -- not directed by Sher -- was excellent, especially Angela Pierce as Blanche. But mostly we're just not all that interested in what Intiman is doing these days, the crazed hype about Piazza and inexplicable "regional" Tony awards notwithstanding. We move that Sher spend even more time in New York.

Where is Warner Shook when you need him?


John said...

I think I'm with you on Sher, although I don't have the experience with him that you do. Also ditto on this year's Streetcar. I'm curious, though - you really loved OSF's last Richard III that much? Was it because of or despite James Newcomb? I loved the opening, spider-y image of him with those crutches, but his diction irked me and large swathes of the ensemble cast were, imo, unremarkable.

I didn't hate it, and it just may be that Ian McKellen has ruined me for other productions forever, but I'm hoping I enjoy my next R3 more than my last one.

~ John

Becky said...

Though "Othello" is a great play, it will take me a while yet to be interested in seeing it again. My senior project in college was assigned, and it was on Othello. We watched at least 4 versions of it, went to the play, read through it at least 2 or 3 times, and discussed it for an entire year in classrooms around campus. It would have been nice to be able to choose our own topic - let's just leave it at that.

Your blog makes me want to attend more drama productions...unfortunately in my little town, they are few and far between, not like in Seattle. When I spent 3 months in London in 2003 I saw 8-10 plays, each in a different theatre. It was amazing! Ah the culture of large cities.

Weisenheimer said...


We definitely liked OSF's R3 because of Newcomb. The persona of the character was amazing, and I had no problems with the diction. The scenes with Elizabeth were absolutely electric. I was also really impressed with the lighting and what they did with a pretty stark set.

Your comments made me wonder what time of year you saw the show -- actors tell us later is better, as they've really got it down. Or, just different tastes, that's sure OK, too!

I'm also a big fan of the McKellan R3, and hope Branagh takes the role on some day. Also, did you ever see Al Pacino's 1996 flick "Looking for Richard"? It's all about interpreting the play and putting it on. They do some scenes with Pacino in the title role. I'd love to see him in a stage production!


John said...

Hi again,

I can't remember exactly when we went, but I suspect it was later in the year as that's our sweet spot more often than not. I guess it's different tastes in the end. I remember being entranced by the opening insectoid image and absorbing his mannerisms, but the actual performance just didn't captivate me over the entirety of the production.

Based on other things I saw him in, I think (but don't know, too small a sample...) that I just am not a fan of Newcomb.

Interesting thought about KB as R3. My mental image of him is of a man too lacking in gravitas to pull it off (and I'm a huge KB fan) but that's probably terribly unfair.

I enjoyed "Looking for Richard" for everything but the R3 scenes themselves. Probably the workshop feel of them... although I like "Vanya on 42nd Street" for that very reason, so go fig. :D

~ John