My introduction to Othello was walking into the living room where my older brother was watching a TV broadcast of a stage production. Onscreen was scene 5.2, in which Othello kills Desdemona. At the time I was a lippy, anti-Shakespeare teenager and so I merely dissed the production and did not admit the powerful effect the scene had on me.
Fast forward to adulthood, and Othello became the Shakespeare play I really wanted to direct. Upon first reading, its misogyny jumped out at me. Maybe my take on it was strongly influenced by that first introduction, but for me the play is chiefly about how some men irrationally fear and hate women. Yes, Othello is also a play about racism, but I see it as a play about how women are treated: at its most basic level, it’s a play in which two husbands murder their wives.
Even before #MeToo and #TimesUp – movements which have brought these issues into sharp focus and which have provided us with a wealth of examples to draw on (e.g. the recent Presidents Club horrors) – we were pursuing this take for our production, set in modern-day Britain. Why this setting? Because racism and misogyny are prevalent here. If they weren’t, hate crime would not have risen by 57% in the four days after the EU referendum. If they weren’t, an estimated 6,000 girls would not currently be being sexually exploited in gangs across the UK. If they weren’t, Reker Ahmed, a young asylum seeker, would not have been attacked and left for dead on 31 March 2017 by a 30-strong mob, simply for being a refugee. If modern-day Britain was not misogynistic, more than 113 women would not have been killed by men in 2016 alone. Two-thirds of these, just like Desdemona and Emilia, were murdered by their partners.
So when you watch this play, be aware that its narrative is not dated; that Shakespeare’s heroines stand for women from this day and age. Women such as Stacey. In 2014, Stacey mentioned to her friend Angie that she didn’t think a guy Angie knew – who was in a gang – was very nice. Angie reported this to the guy in question, so he rounded up three mates and together they gang-raped Stacey after school. Then they rang more friends who also came and joined the attack: nine of them in total, all assaulting one girl for the ‘crime’ of one ‘offensive’ remark.
The real crime is the fact that what you see tonight is happening tonight, for real. Women are still being silenced, slandered, sexually harassed and slaughtered. Shakespeare’s play, written over 400 years ago, is tragically more pertinent than ever.
Billy Knowles – Roderigo
This is Billy’s fourth production with KDC after appearing in Stags & Hens, Bones and most recently Den of Thieves. Previous shows include The Magnetic Lady, Boom Bang-a-Bang, Bacchus In Rehab, Amore the Merrier and Shopping & F***ing at the Edinburgh Fringe. Billy has also performed in several shows with ARC Theatre Ensemble and as part of The Works, a choir ran by the ENO. Billy has recently returned to touring with Rainbow Theatre London playing various characters in rep, which he’s really enjoying. Othello is Billy’s first ever Shakespeare production and he’s very excited to be part of it and to join a talented cast and crew.
Martin Shaw – Iago
Martin studied Drama many miles away and many years ago at a University far away up North. Since then he has worked in the book trade and acted in several theatre companies around the UK. This is his fourth show with KDC, where he reignited is love for acting 8 years ago at the Barons Court Theatre after a 12 year hiatus. Previous Shakespearean roles include Claudius in Hamlet (KDC), Touchstone in As You Like It, Tranio in Taming of the Shrew and most recently Don Jon/Dogberry in The Tower Theatre’s tour to Paris in 2017. Martin hopes you find the character of Iago just as fascinating, ambiguous and as beguiling as he has bringing him to life here. He hopes above all you can forgive him for what he is about to do…
Stephen Reimer – Brabantio and Ensemble
Stephen is excited to be a part of this KDC production, his UK theatrical debut no less! Previous credits include HMS Pinafore and The Mikado (G&S), Entertaining Mr. Sloane (Orton), The Bear (Chekhov), and High School Musical on Stage! (he’s not so proud of that last one to be completely honest…) Stephen is from Canada and makes a point of telling everyone about it.
Ian Green – Ensemble
Ian is delighted to be returning to KDC. Previously he was Paris in Romeo / Juliet, in which he failed to get the girl so hard it killed him. Other performances include Bob Acres in The Rivals (Sedos), where he barely survived his inability to get the girl, as well as various (sometimes human) characters in the improvised Dreaming on a Midsummer’s Night and the devised Otherworldly (both KDC). Will any of his four (count them!) characters get the girl tonight? You’ll have to wait and see!
Eddie Coleman – Ensemble
Eddie has been involved in amateur theatre for the last 18 years, working both backstage and on stage. He has acted, and directed, for KDC Theatre, and was the Artistic Director for KDC Theatre for several years. He is delighted to be back working with Duncan and KDC Theatre in Othello. He also writes and his next play, Fan Girl, will be part of the Edinburgh Fringe this August
Elliott Bornemann – Othello
This is Elliott’s third outing with KDC, his second time being directed by Duncan and his first Shakespeare lead. Elliott trained at Rose Bruford graduating in European Theatre Arts. Past credits include Aladdin in a school panto tour of Aladdin, new writing political satire Lottery (Pleasance Theatre), multiple roles in All in the Timing (Edinburgh Fringe) and Judas in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Barons Court Theatre).
Nick Edwards – Cassio
Nick has been a member of KDC for almost 10 years and has been involved in 10 productions in that time including directing Breathing Corpses. Other acting credits have been: Bones, Disappeared, Six Degrees of Separation, Casual Encounters and Well Dressed. Nick is very excited to be in his first ever Shakespeare play!
Helen Jackson – The Duke
Helen knew she was destined for the stage following her first acclaimed theatrical role as ‘Tree in a Forest’. Since then she has played a tree on two other occasions. Luckily she has also enjoyed some slightly meatier roles where she has (hopefully) been less wooden. This is Helen’s 8th KDC production. She has previously appeared in A Clockwork Orange, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tamer Tamed, Electra, Blood Wedding, Well Dressed and Romeo and Juliet.
Keir Mills – Lodovico
This is Keir’s sixth production with KDC having previously exacerbated a family feud as Tybalt in Romeo & Juliet, been caught in the middle of one as Dr Cardin in The Children’s Hour, hamming up his Tony Soprano vernacular to its upmost as Sal in Den Of Thieves and most recently laying down some choice ideals in Stuart Slade’s BU21.
Alongside his stage work, Keir’s on-screen credits include the feature films City Rats and Shaun Of The Dead and acclaimed shorts, Honeymoon, The Outcasts and Green Means Stop. Not forgetting TV Shows including Channel 4’s Teachers and Messiah and the usual rounds of The Bill (R.I.P.) Holby City and Casualty amongst others. Keir is proud of the fact that Charlie Brooker once called him the biggest c**t in advertising for a truly appalling Coke Zero commercial.
Previous to this, the most amount of times Keir had written ‘Keir’ in any singular piece of writing was five. So Keir is proud to have taken the opportunity to beat this record… comfortably. Keir is pretty sure bio will be cut.
Izzie Price – Desdemona
This is Izzie’s second production with KDC, having played Rosalie Wells in The Children’s Hour in 2016. Other theatre includes playing Sara Crewe in A Little Princess (Theatre N16/Edinburgh Fringe Festival), Athena in The Furies and Sybil Vane in The Picture of Dorian Gray (Edinburgh Fringe Festival). She read Theology at Durham University and recently completed a History of Art course at The British Institute of Florence, Italy. Izzie is loving every minute of rehearsing this amazing play, especially with such a talented cast, and hopes you all enjoy the show!
Graham White – Montano and Ensemble
Graham is delighted to be making his KDC debut in this sexy production of Othello. The show also marks Graham’s first Shakespeare play, having got a taste for historical dramedies whilst appearing in Sheridan’s The Rivals with Sedos last year. In his spare time, Graham enjoys cutting the McDonald’s coupons out of the Metro and working towards his goal weight of ‘Kim Kardashian West’ (one kilogram to go!)
Julia Pagett – Emilia
Julia graduated from Drama Studio London in 2014 after having attained a degree in French Studies from Warwick University. She is currently represented by Inspiration Management.
Julia is both a stage, screen and voice-over actress. Immediately before this production, Julia finished up a run at The Brockley Jack Theatre, performing in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, which received 4 Off-Westend nominations.
As well as acting, Julia is an avid writer, singer and poet with a passion for learning – she is currently using the majority of her free time studying for a diploma in Digital Marketing, her mantra being: ‘Never judge a book by its cover!’
Lene Kqiku – Bianca
This is Lene Kqiku’s second production with KDC. She trained as a contemporary dancer in Finland, but after moving to London in 2013 has been actively pursuing her true passion for acting. After studying with a range of acting schools, she has wrapped on a number of short film projects, including the upcoming sci-fi Opus One, drama Brexit and psychological horror thriller Carcera, with more in pre-production.
You can hear all about our Spring Season at our Launch Event, from 7pm Thursday 4 January 2018 at the Hoop & Grapes, Farringdon. Meet the directors, hear about their visions for our exciting season. Follow the links to read the full audition notices:
Audition details for all shows as follows: Date: Monday 8, Wednesday 10, Thursday 11 January Time: 6.45pm – 7pm registration, auditions 7pm – 9pm Location: The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford, SE8 4AG (nearest stations are New Cross and Deptford)