Aquila's Off-Bway Othello Opens June 9, in a Cyprian Setting

News   Aquila's Off-Bway Othello Opens June 9, in a Cyprian Setting Aquila Theatre Company's unique "promenade" staging of Othello, in which audience members are placed close to the actors, opens June 9 Off-Broadway.

The Shakespeare revival is part of Aquila's first attempt at a subscription season in Manhattan after several years of producing sporadic shows. The Off-Broadway troupe is known for its bold physicality, quirky concepts and British and American casts. Othello began previews May 18. Performances continue to June 27 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center.

Aquila sets the play on a modern British military base on Cyprus. Anthony Cochrane is Iago, Richard Willis is Brabantio and Lloyd Notice is Othello.

What exactly is a "promenade"-style production? According to an Aquila spokesman, "The audience that 'promenades' is situated amongst the actors —they will be seated or standing (not for long) around the main stage area in the middle of the floor (the esplanade). The promenaders are part of the Venetian Senate and guests at Bianca's Bar, among other locales. While audience members can also sit traditionally (the arena), it is the promenade method that affords an intimate experience of the production and is the recommended way to view Aquila's Othello."

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Cochrane has appeared in such Aquila productions as Much Ado About Nothing (Benedick), The Iliad (Achilles) and King Lear (title role). He is an alumnus of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Willis' Aquila credits include The Importance of Being Earnest (Jack), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Bottom) and The Tempest (Prospero).

Notice is an alumnus of the Royal Shakespeare Company where he performed in King Lear, Moby Dick, A Country Wife and Woza Albert.

Othello comes to New York after completing a successful and critically acclaimed 72-city national tour as part of the NEA's Shakespeare in American Communities initiative. This tour included special performances for the U.S. military supported by funding from the Pentagon, workshops on Race in America and a full educational program.

Created by Peter Meineck and Robert Richmond, Aquila's Othello is directed and adapted by Richmond and features music by Anthony Cochrane (who has created original music for numerous Aquila productions).

Aquila's premiere New York season (which devotes itself to "productions that intersect on the theme of the effects of war") began with the recent modern production of Agamemnon and concludes with the stage adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King, "a retelling of the classic adventure of two British rogues on a quest to conquer the wilds of Afghanistan" (July 1-Aug. 8, also at Baruch Performing Arts Center).

Tickets ($45) are available through Telecharge at (212) 239-6200.

Special two-play subscriptions for Aquila's Othello and The Man Who Would Be King ($50 for both plays) are available by phone at (212) 998-8017 or online at www.aquilatheatre.com.

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Aquila Theatre Company was founded in London in 1991 by Peter Meineck to present innovative productions of classical drama. Since then the company has toured throughout the United States, Canada and Europe with annual productions in New York and London. In 1999, Aquila moved to New York and has since presented eight productions, including Homer's Iliad: Book One; Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Comedy of Errors; and Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.

Baruch Performing Arts Center is located on 25th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues.

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Initiating a new company policy, 10 percent of all tickets sold will be donated to Tolerance.org, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Peter Meineck is Aquila's producing artistic director, Robert Richmond is associate artistic director.

The Aquila staging of <i>Othello</i>
The Aquila staging of Othello Photo by Carol Rosegg