viernes, 11 de agosto de 2017


Right, now August begins and so does the second half of my Verdian Othello project, a most pleasant distraction in the hot sun of these Thermidorian mid-days... Speaking of which, things get a bit more heated up in this third act; with an important dignitary arriving from the capital of the realm and Othello completely losing his sanity, love, and hope, going as far ***spoiler alert!*** as striking his wife in a jealous rage in front of that same dignitary, during a public event...
Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world; the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and, everywhere, the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
Thus, expect graphic language and physical abuse in this act, when things get REAL in all caps! All hope seems lost... or isn't it? Stay tuned to this feuilleton to find out!
(#OthElokuu: August with Othello, if you haven't understood the Finnish half of the hashtag)



The Great Hall of the keep. Two vast terraces to left and right, and, in the middle, a colonnade or peristylum, which divides the hall into three parts, and at whose end there is an open door leading to a balcony above the patio gardens. Othello and Iago lounging on throne-like chairs in the hall, the former visibly upset, restraining himself, and the latter smiling as cool as a cucumber.
Enter a herald.

THE HERALD (Solemnly):
The watch on the port tower brings announcement
of the arrival of the flagship
of the Ambassador, who'll soon land here.

OTHELLO (to Iago, waving the herald away):

It's all right.
Now on to...


I will bring Cassio here, cleverly win him over;
he'll say it all out loud. (Pointing towards the terrace on the left, and forcing Othello to stay behind the column that is furthest away.)
Behind this column,
pay heed to every word he breathes, his gestures,
his quips and jokes, too. Now wait in patience,
or the proof will elude you. There's Desdemona, right?

(Enter Desdemona stage left, but she's only standing on the threshold to the left terrace.)

IAGO (leaving stage right, turning towards Othello as he utters the line "I must leave"):

Don't let them know it... I must leave.
That silken tissue...
Off! If I forgot it and thought of it no more...!
(Exit Iago stage right)

DESDEMONA (still on the threshold of the left terrace, sweetly):

Gods' blessings upon you, my spouse, the light of my lifetime!
OTHELLO (approaching Desdemona):
Thank you, my lady; please put your lilywhite right hand in mine...
(She puts her right hand on Othello's left.)
No warmth glows this fair lily with, it's as cold as ice.
'Tis still pure and unknowing old age, sorrow, and vice.
And still an evil spirit nestles within these fair fingers,
upon these dainty little nails it shimmers still and lingers...
Softly, most gently raised in prayers,
in pure devotion...
With this hand I gave you my heart, as deep as the ocean...
Now, shall we speak then once more of Cassio?
OTHELLO (wincing, head buried in his hands):
This throbbing pain won't leave
my dark head... with sense dueling...
Please, wipe my brow for sure cooling!
DESDEMONA (producing a plain white handkerchief):
For you.
No. I want my strawberry gift, made of silk.
I fear I've lost it...
My lady wife... You're lost if you've lost it! Lost!
The wisest of all witches, with maids' hearts dessiccated,
within a spell of true love spun, wove, and decorated!
Pay heed! Losing or giving it away would bring you sorrow!
Is this the truth, dear?
The purest truth, dear.
There's no tomorrow!
So... have you really lost it?
Look for it.
I'll look for it... pretty soon...
DESDEMONA (ironically):
You're making fun of me now,
for Cassio's case you're not free now;
I know evasives when I hear...
Good Heavens! I hold myself no longer!!
That silken tissue...
A trusted friend is Cassio, that's the issue.
OTHELLO (louder):
That silken tissue!!
DESDEMONA (looking down):
Good Heavens!! Your voice turned to a roar that threatens!
OTHELLO (forcing Desdemona to look him in the eyes):
Up with those eyes, wench!
That thought is dreadful!
OTHELLO (forcing Desdemona to look him in the eyes):
Look in these eyes now!! Say who you are...
DESDEMONA (with a distorted voice, her mouth squashed by Othello's strong hands):
Othello's faithful lady...
OTHELLO (forcing Desdemona to look him in the eyes):
Swear it!! Curse, damn yourself, thus!!
Othello believes I'm faithful...
OTHELLO (coldly, still pinning Desdemona):
That you're unfaithful.
Help me, O Heavens!!
Go, race for your damnation,
say that you're pure now.
DESDEMONA (looking in Othello's eyes, teary, sobbing):
Pure... yes, I am...
OTHELLO (letting Desdemona go and fall on the ground):
Swear, damn yourself, thus!!
In seeing you so fierce now,
my blood with dread has frozen...
through you speaks all that fury
I to hear ne'er had chosen...
Look at me!
Through tearful eyes,
into a heart that's breaking,
a mirror for your sorrows
clear, yet these rains now taking!
For your sake, these clear droplets fall on the thirsty ground!
The first tears leave my eyes now, our hearts bleed all around!!
If succubi were like this, an angel would believe them
and never leave them...
DESDEMONA (fierily, passionately):
Let the Immortals see that I'm faithful!
No! Let Hades see it...
Then, I plead for your justice,
my spouse beloved!
OTHELLO (shoving Desdemona aside, shedding tears of sorrow, rage, and despair):
Ah!! My lady wife... Away now!! Away now!! AWAY NOW!!!
Tears from you, too? To such sharp pain this sobbing is high treason!
(Desperate.) Though innocent, I am myself for such despair the reason!
What have I done wrong?
OTHELLO (sinister):
You ask it? The darkest sin you've committed
is upon your lilywhite brow with a hot brand written!
Poor me!
What? A vile wench, a strumpet, did say it?!
Lord... No... no... by my baptismal naming, I swear, I pray it!
OTHELLO (seizing Desdemona by the wrist):
Ah... I am not what those dreadful words are e'er expressing.
OTHELLO (changing his rage for a cool, calm, Iago-like irony; seizing Desdemona by the wrist and pulling her into the left terrace): Give me your snow-white hand thus, fear no oppressing.
(Loudly, coldly.) For I thought that...
(Whispering.) ...forgive me if my thoughts are the wrong ones...
(Loudly, coldly.) ...she was the wench, the strumpet...
(Sinister, ominous, grim.) ...who once married Othello.

(Othello shoves, with a powerful motion of his rippling right arm, Desdemona out to the left terrace. She runs away stage left, visibly brokenhearted, while her spouse stands alone centre stage, in deep dejection.)

OTHELLO (in a broken voice):

I could have withstood any misfortune;
shame, want, e'en squalor...
that my renownéd victories' fortune
were as a hoax the whole world to holler...
And I'd believe that guilty was I,
any cross carry
calm, not contrary...
patiently taking wistful chance in stride.
Yet... dread and pain! The mirror I had chosen
for reflecting my heart has been stolen and shattered...
Gone is the sunshine, the smile that reassured me; I'm frozen;
the shards mirrored me as a thousand freaks ere they scattered...
And Clemence, Mercy, that friendly immortal fey
of smile so rosy,
cover your face's posy,
lovely, with dreadful larval mask of dismay!!
Ah... Damn the strumpet,
let her confess her sins and then expire!
Confession! Confession!!
The proof now...!!

(Enter Iago, stage left.)

IAGO (approaching Othello, pointing towards the left terrace):

Cassio is there!
There? Is he?! I'm on fire!
(To himself.) Such dread! Such dark desire!!
IAGO (leading Othello into the left terrace, to the column most in the background of the left peristylum):
Keep calm! Hide by this column!

(Othello hides behind the column, so that he cannot be seen from the left terrace. Enter Cassio, stage left.)

IAGO (to Cassio, approaching and greeting him):

Come, the terrace is empty.
Is all right, Ser Lieutenant?
This honourable rank's the reason all goes wrong...
Take heart! I'm sure your cause is in the right hands,
and you're soon reinstated!
I thought that Desdemona would be right here.
OTHELLO (from behind the column):
He's said her name!
I'd like to meet her once more...
Knew I she'd spoken for me, I'd be elated!
IAGO (cheerfully):
Wait for her...
(He leads Cassio to the foremost columns in the left peristylum.)
And, since you never grow weary
of sharing with me your lively conversation,
tell me a little more now about your sweetheart!
Of whom?
IAGO (whispering in Cassio's ear):
Miss Bianca...
CASSIO (chortling):
OTHELLO (from behind the column):
He's smiling!
She overwins you 
with her eyes' glitter...
CASSIO (chortling):
You make me snicker!
Laughs first the winner!
CASSIO (chortling, then laughing heartily):
So do I think,
though you said it wrong;
laughs last the winner! Ha-ha!!
IAGO (laughing with Cassio):
OTHELLO (from behind the column):
The wicked triumphs... his laugh at my heart is tearing...
No star shines on me, in my despairing!
Her kisses taste like
fruit out of season...
Such bold unreason!
Let her keep trolling!
Is something new
exciting you, Ser,
has something started?
IAGO (laughing with Cassio):
OTHELLO (from behind the column):
The wicked triumphs... his laugh at my heart is tearing...
No star shines on me in my despairing!
Yes, that's my way, I
say open-hearted.
You know...
IAGO (whispering in Cassio's ear):
In whispers we'll say, I-
-'m all ears...
CASSIO (softly, as Iago pulls him a little more away from the columns):
We two share bedchamber,
you know, in this tower...
OTHELLO (from behind the column, peering from behind to catch some of Cassio's words):
Now he will say which way,
the place, the hour...
CASSIO (softly): an unknown hand...
OTHELLO (from behind the column, peering from behind to catch some of Cassio's words):
I could barely catch three words!
Keep calm! To listen I would like!!
How did this end here?
CASSIO (softly):
...embroidered kerchief...
IAGO (in Cassio's ear, winking an eye at Othello):
So strange! So unusual!
OTHELLO (from behind the column):
Iago gives a sign that I come closer...
IAGO (in Cassio's ear, quietly):
By an unknown hand?
(Loudly.) Humbug!!
(He gestures to Cassio to whisper once more.)
For real, true!
If I but knew who has left it there for me...

(Othello moves gradually, step by step, closer and closer to the younger officers, from the column at the end where he stands all the way to the foremost one nearest Iago and Cassio, himself unseen.)

IAGO (whispering to himself):

Othello's near, I see.
(To Cassio, loudly.) You've got it?
CASSIO (producing Desdemona's strawberry handkerchief from his breast pocket):
IAGO (taking up and admiring the handkerchief):
True art... a wonder!
(To himself.) Othello's closer,
and catching fire like woods in summer...
(Iago puts both his hands on his back, right upon his derrière, for Othello to see the handkerchief he is still holding.)
(To Cassio, ironic.) Fair Ser Lieutenant,
the gods or angels
would in your bed be guests!
OTHELLO (seeing the handkerchief on Iago's back, peering from the foremost column):
Her kerchief! Her kerchief!!
Death and ruin!!
IAGO (to himself, as he gives Cassio the handkerchief):
He can't be closer...
OTHELLO (in a state of shock, watching the handkerchief in Cassio's hands):
All is quenched... my heart's of ice,
untouched by love and sorrow!!
Betrayed... I'm betrayed... trapped!
The proof is crystal clear, as cloudless skies!

IAGO (to Cassio, taking the handkerchief from the lieutenant and fluttering it around):

Within this snare, your
heart, true and young,
trapped and entangled,
its last has sung.
You watch her too much,
her too much admire;
beware, for youthful
love is a liar!
Within this snare, your
heart, true and young,
trapped and entangled,
its last has sung...
CASSIO (taking the handkerchief from Iago's hands and admiring its patterns):
Oh, shawl for a fairy,
laced with bloom and berry,
with needlework woven
of rays of twilight...
Than flakes of snow lighter,
and cooler, and whiter;
spun cloud, in its softness
so airy and bright...
Within this snare, your
heart, true and young,
trapped and entangled,
its last has sung.
You watch her too much,
her too much admire;
beware, for youthful
love is a liar!
Pay heed, Ser!
Within this snare, your
heart, true and young,
trapped and entangled,
its last has sung...
CASSIO (taking the handkerchief from Iago's hands and admiring its patterns, also fluttering it around):
Oh, shawl for a fairy,
laced with bloom and berry,
with needlework woven
of rays of twilight...
Than flakes of snow lighter,
and cooler, and whiter;
spun cloud, in its softness
so airy and bright...
Oh spun cloud, oh shawl for a fairy!
OTHELLO (watching the handkerchief all the time from behind the column):
That betrayal, that betrayal, that betrayal,
has through dreadful... has through dreadful...
dreadful proof just seen the light!
Oh, shawl for a fairy!
Oh, betrayal!
IAGO (to Cassio):
You watch her too much...
Oh, betrayal!
Pay heed! Pay heed!

(Deep fanfare call in the distance.)

(Deep fanfare call echoed from nearer, from various parts of the fortress.)

IAGO (to Cassio):

This is the signal that announces
the arrival of the Ambassador's ship.
Now listen.
All of the fortress now chimes in his landing...
If you don't want to cross Othello's path now,
run off!
CASSIO (waving Iago goodbye):
Goodbye, then.
(Exit Cassio, running off at breakneck speed, stage left.)

(Othello finally pops up from behind his column hiding-place.)

OTHELLO (approaching Iago):

How should I end her life?!
You watched him well, how he laughed, his reactions?
Saw it.
And that silk tissue?
Everything, yes.

COMMONERS (from offstage):

Long live him! To the landing!
Man the gangway!


She's doomed forever.

COMMONERS (from offstage):

Long live him!


Ensure that I may get tonight some poison...
No poison, no.

COMMONERS (from offstage):

Greet the envoy from our Leader!!


I'd rather suffocate her
upon the very marriage bed she has tainted.
I'm pleased with your sense of justice.
IAGO (whispering):
And Cassio... Yours Truly of him will take care.
Thus, from on now, Iago, my aide-de-camp I've chosen.
Lord Commander, 'tis hard to thank you...
There are the dignitaries!
Greet them welcome... but, not to raise suspicions,
introduce Desdemona to their presence!
She will be here...

(Exit Iago stage left. Othello strides to the background to receive the dignitaries.)

(Enter Othello, with Iago on his right; Ambassador Ludovica; Roderigo; the herald; Desdemona chaperoned by Emilia; male and female dignitaries from the capital of the realm; the regimental band, and Cassio last of all, hiding behind a column in shame.)

Welcome! Long live her!
Greet the envoy from our Leader!!
Welcome! Long live her!
Greet the envoy from our Leader!!
Welcome! Long live her!

LUDOVICA (handing Othello an envelope):
The Leader and the Council
send their regards to the victorious war hero.
Into your hands, I bring thus
the message they have written.

OTHELLO (kissing the lacquer seal on the envelope, before he opens the letter):
I kiss the Great Seal of our high Overlord.

LUDOVICA (approaching Desdemona, kissing her right hand):
The heavens bless you, my lady.
DESDEMONA (curtsying before Ludovica):
The heavens bless you.

EMILIA (in Desdemona's ear):
You look so downcast...
DESDEMONA (in Emilia's ear):
Emilia, some great trouble
clouds Othello's judgement and my own spirit...
IAGO (to Ludovica, bowing low):
Dear Madame, your presence is an honour.
LUDOVICA (forming a circle with Desdemona and Iago):
Iago, what news? 'Tis strange that
we cannot find Lieutenant Cassio...
He's lost Othello's favour...
DESDEMONA (sweetly):
He'll be reinstated, I believe.
OTHELLO (reading the letter, casting but a glance on Desdemona):
Are you of that sure?
What was it?
He's reading, too concentrated...
He'll be reinstated, just maybe...
Iago, I hope so;
you know my true affection towards young Cassio...
OTHELLO (still reading, casting but a piercing glance on Desdemona, slightly angry):
Could you restrain those loose lips while I read?
Please forgive me, my lord...
OTHELLO (lunging at Desdemona, in a fit of rage):
Shut up, you strumpet!!
LUDOVICA (restraining Othello):
Halt, Ser!!
So dreadful! So dreadful!!
I can't believe my eyes, no;
this must be an illusion...
OTHELLO (to the herald, commanding imperiously):
Bring here Cassio!!
IAGO (running to Othello's side, in his ear):
For what now?

(Exit the herald.)

OTHELLO (in Iago's ear):
Watch her once he's been summoned.

(Othello walks to the balcony door in the background of the middle of the stage and stands frozen there. Desdemona breaks into tears.)

Poor broken lady!
LUDOVICA (to Iago):
Is this man our war hero? Is this Othello,
the warrior everyone worships?!
That man himself.
Explain your thoughts, good fellow!
In this case, keeping silence is far better.

(Enter Cassio stage left, followed by the herald.)

OTHELLO (turning around, seeing Cassio's arrival):
There he is!! Right here! 
(To Iago.) Watch him, and don't forget her!
(Out loud, to everyone, reading from the letter.) Good folk, our Leader...
(To Desdemona.) Fine tears, pretender!
(Out loud, to everyone, reading from the letter.) headquarters recalls me.
RODERIGO (to himself):
Now I'm for crying!
OTHELLO (out loud, to everyone, reading from the letter):
As my successor,
he's chosen a young man, a sure contender,
my aide-de-camp once: Cassio.
IAGO (gasping in shock):
To hell, to dying!!
OTHELLO (out loud, to everyone, reading from the letter):
Our Gracious Leader's word is law forever.
CASSIO (kneeling before Othello):
I shall obey.

OTHELLO (in Iago's ear, pointing at Cassio):
Look here! The scoundrel seems not excited.
IAGO (in Othello's ear):

OTHELLO (out loud, to everyone, without looking Cassio in the eye):
The regiment, the townsfolk...
(In Desdemona's ear, hissing.) Keep on sobbing and crying!
(Out loud, to everyone, without looking Cassio in the eye.) ...cannons, fleet, and the fortress,
I leave in charge of my successor.
LUDOVICA (to Othello, pointing at a desperate Desdemona):
Othello, comfort her...
comfort her, please, or her heart will shatter...
OTHELLO (to Desdemona):
We're setting sail tomorrow.
(Othello furiously packs Desdemona by both wrists.)
OTHELLO (shoving Desdemona down to the ground, furious, slapping her across the face):
Now down!! Choke your sorrow!!

(Emilia and Ludovica raise Desdemona up as she dusts her clothes.)

I've fallen... struck... upon the dust...
prostrate... my heart... is breaking...
tears run... my blood is freezing with
a shudder... I must die...
Once springtime bloomed in hope and joy,
smiles, kisses, unforsaken...
yet seasons always change, and
now gone's the springtime sky...
This April sun, serene and bright,
illuming shore, sea, and sky,
cannot revive these flowers right,
my tears it cannot dry...

How innocent, unstruck, and pure,
no hatred she's displaying;
she holds her ground, and chokes back sure
her bosom's pain within...
Crystal teardroplets shatter,
her searing face allaying...
Who mourns her not a heart of stone
has, shrivelled up by sin!

My fairest sun is setting
into a starless night...
Forth goes my lovely angel,
the world's bereft of light...

Like tennis ball struck, I've been raised
from deep disgrace to glory...
Though crowned by chance, to lifeless hand
and head's offered the crown...
Shall night give way to morning light?
Will I see end this story?
I may be rising to the skies,
yet wake up, crashing down...

His right hand raised against her,
his lungs are breathing fire;
her fairy face, streaming with tears,
turned upwards to the skies...
Compassion sighs just to behold
her sorrow and his ire,
moving to tears of warmth that will
thaw any heart of ice...

DESDEMONA (very sweetly):
Once springtime bloomed in hope and joy,
smiles, kisses, unforsaken...
yet seasons always change, and
now gone's the springtime sky...
I've fallen... prostrate... 
my heart is... to break...
my blood is freezing with
a shudder... I must die...

Poor wife! Poor wife! Poor wife!
Such dire, deathly anxiety
takes over us, souls frozen and in life still dead...
He struck her down!
He struck her down! That soft face, lilywhite,
lowered and silent, sobbing, in despair...
Thus, when doomed is the sinner, in the heavens,
shed tears for those condemned to hell the angels fair...

There's something! There's something! There's something!
That dark man knows no piety...
Ominous, sinister is he, inspiring dread...
Tearing his shirt, then at his chest
clawing! Upon the dry ground is still fixed his gaze!
Then, rising up, his dark fists punching upwards, he
challenges the heavens and the sun's bright rays!!

(After recovering from his fit of rage, an exhausted Othello collapses in a chair.)

IAGO (in Othello's ear, shaking him up slightly):
May I have a word now?

OTHELLO (coming to):
What now?

Make haste now! Show them
revenge's taste now! For time is flying...

Well spoken.

A fit of rage is useless. Allons-y!
Care only for our vengeance! There's no delaying!
I think of Cassio. I know right where to find him.
Hades has a place for his inglorious soul already!

Who'll tear that soul off?
So I swore.
So be it.
You shall have news of him this very evening.

(Iago turns around to address a dejected Roderigo)

Your dream girl will sail the bright blue tomorrow,
you'll stay on terra firma...
Marooned, Ser!
You... Dummkopf! Dummkopf!
Who dares wins! Lose not hope! You human?!
All right! Come down to Earth now and listen.
I listen...
The flagship will set sail at daybreak.
Now Cassio rules here.
If our young lord should now befall some...
(Clutching the hilt of his dagger.) ...misfortune...
Othello and his wife stay.
Sinister light in my darkest despair!
Get that sword ready!
In the dark, I can trace the paths he follows;
the time and place I'll tell... it's up to you.
I shall escort you. The hunt's up! The hunt's up!
So load your gun, too...
Yes! We stay to one another true!
IAGO (to himself):
Dash for the mirror! Your expectations
are still confused with that elusive dream...
Follow my shrewd and clever indications,
fool in love! I follow myself, not what I seem!
RODERIGO (to himself):
The dice are cast! Thus, I'll wait without fearing,
unknown and uncertain my bitter end...
Love leads me on, yet dreadful disappearing
is closing in; there's no hope, I can't myself defend...

OTHELLO (furious, to the whole crowd):
OTHELLO (furious, to the whole crowd):

(Fanfare offstage)

IAGO (to everyone):
He's struck down by an illness
that of all sense deprives him...
OTHELLO (loudly): 
Whoe'er confronts me 
shall I treat as a rebel!!

LUDOVICA (leading Desdemona away to safety, twining her right arm in her niece's left):
Come with me.

CROWD OF TOWNSFOLK (from offstage):
Long live him!

DESDEMONA (leaving Ludovica and storming towards Othello):
My husband!!

OTHELLO (to Desdemona, furious):
My love... the greatest curse be upon you!!!

EVERYONE (leaving in panic):
Good Lord!!

(Exit Desdemona, visibly brokenhearted, flanked by Emilia and Ludovica.)

(Everyone has left but Othello and Iago, now tête-à-tête.)

OTHELLO (delirious, back on his chair):
There's no escape alone... Bloodshed!!
Ah... Despicable thought, that... "I don't like this..."
(Even more delirious, getting up from his chair but reeling): To see them clasp each other...
...that silken tissue... that silken tissue... that silken tissue... Ah! Aah! Aaagh!!!
(He falls backwards, struck by another grand mal seizure, then keeps on tossing and writhing on the ground.)

(Fanfares from outside.)

COMMONERS (from offstage):
Long live Othello!!

IAGO (to himself, listening to the crowd):
My poison is effective...
(Looking down on the epileptic, unconscious Othello.) Glorious and victorious,
loudly ring his praises...

(He puts a foot to the nape of Othello's neck, as if to tread on it. Pause. Othello ceases to writhe but is still lying unconscious on the ground, Iago moving to the side Othello is facing... and putting a foot to his commanding officer's face. Silence, Iago frozen in place, as if toying with the idea.)

IAGO (at the end of the pause): Who can stop me from leaving
footprints upon his forehead?

(More, and louder, fanfares and cheers from all over the fortress.)

COMMONERS (from offstage, each time closer and louder):
Long live, long live Othello!
Send our Lion victorious!!

IAGO (defiantly, standing upright, treading on Othello's face with his left foot, pointing down at the general's lifeless form, now more sinister than ever):

3 comentarios:

  1. That finale is impressive:
    IAGO (defiantly, standing upright, treading on Othello's face with his left foot, pointing down at the general's lifeless form, now more sinister than ever):

    1. Treading on his commanding officer and saying these words so ironically...

    2. Stay tuned for the finale in late August... And get tissues ready. Tissues. Xanax or a strong liquor. If you are high-strung, that is.
      In late August or early September, I will publish the integral edition, with all 4 acts under one heading.