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March 12, 2007

CW's Kimball Theatre premieres 18th-century adaptation of "Othello" in March

As part of Colonial Williamsburg’s evening programs, an 18th-century adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Othello” will be performed at the Kimball Theatre beginning Thursday, March 15. The play tells the same story as the original, but incorporates those alterations made in the 18th century, including such things as song and dance.

“Shakespeare in the 18th century was often modified to suit the tastes of the audience,” said Todd D. Norris, director of the production and manager of Colonial Williamsburg’s performing arts department. “In the tragedies, this would often include really extensive rewriting. You’d find plays like ‘King Lear,’ ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ and ‘Macbeth’ having happy endings. Othello is one of the least tampered with. They cut things out, but they didn’t really add anything.”

Eighteenth-century American plays were generally divided into two categories—the newer, short plays, usually light, fluffy comedies of manners, and the classic Shakespeare. Colonial theaters would usually perform multiple plays in one evening, leading to a blend of the old and the new.

“We haven’t done Shakespeare in quite a while,” Norris said. “Now’s a good opportunity to broaden the repertoire and give our guests and our staff an opportunity to get a fuller picture of what an evening in a colonial theater would include.”

The costumes worn in colonial plays were the clothing of the time and indicated a general status rather than anything specific about the character. “Othello” stays true to this guide by using 18th-century clothing created by the Foundation’s Costume Design Center. “We’re hoping that our costumes reflect not only the rank of the character, but also the approach that 18th-century theater troupes would have used in presenting this play in Williamsburg,” Norris said.

“Othello” opens Thursday, March 15 at 8 p.m. in Kimball Theatre and will alternate with the other play in this year’s 18th-century Play Series, “The Guardian,” a light comedy. “The Guardian” opens Thursday, March 29 at 8 p.m. at the Kimball Theatre. A Colonial Performance ticket for either play is $12.

For more information, contact the Kimball Theatre box office at (757) 565-8588 or visit Advance tickets for performances are available by calling toll-free 1-800-HISTORY or by visiting any Colonial Williamsburg ticket outlet.

The Kimball Theatre, located in downtown Williamsburg’s Merchants Square, is owned and operated by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the not-for-profit educational institution that operates the restored 18th-century capital of Virginia. The Kimball Theatre box office is open 1-9:15 p.m.

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121