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Shakespeare's Othello at the Globe has 'moorish' appeal for East End school pupils

PUBLISHED: 13:18 27 March 2015 | UPDATED: 13:18 27 March 2015

Lloyd Everitt as Othello at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre  [photo: Ellie Kurttz]

Lloyd Everitt as Othello at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre [photo: Ellie Kurttz]

Ellie Kurttz

Thousands of pupils from schools across east London have seen a special updated version of Othello set in the First World War at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.

Packed audience of youngsters at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre to see Othello [photo: Cesare De Giglio]Packed audience of youngsters at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre to see Othello [photo: Cesare De Giglio]

They included 477 from six Tower Hamlets schools to see the production specially created for 11-to-18 year-olds, among them 200 from Wapping High School alone.

The two-month run which ended last week at Bankside, near London Bridge, was for many their first experience of live theatre and Shakespeare.

“Othello is full of real-life issues,” director Bill Buckhurst says. “It has friendship, envy, domestic violence, race, rumour and prejudice in a world on the brink of war.

“The parallels are clear, with the 1914-18 War centenary commemorations.

“But there are some extraordinary stories of black soldiers in the British army which are not often told.

“Shakespeare was well ahead of his time. It’s incredible to tell his stories from 400 years ago to today’s generations.”

Shakespeare’s Othello written in 1603 is about a black Moorish general in the Venetian army with varied and current themes of racism, love, jealousy, betrayal, revenge and repentance.

The production was part of an annual project at the Globe, where state secondary schools are offered tickets to see a play on the famous stage at the Elizabethan-style open-roof theatre recreated by the late Sam Wannamaker 25 years ago.

The contemporary, fast-paced productions retain Shakespeare’s language, but kept to 100 minutes.

Globe Education supports the school curriculum with student and teacher workshops and online resources to develop employability skills and raise aspirations.

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