Inspired by interviews with mixed heritage couples and individuals, who live locally, and featuring a mixed heritage community chorus from across the city, Nothello will play at the Belgrade from Sat 7 – Sat 21 May, with a press night on Tues 10 May. Nothello will be the final production of the Belgrade’s City of Culture programme.
Isn’t Othello responsible for setting up negative stereotypes about black men? Isn’t Desdemona a bit shallow? And don’t all the best lines go to Iago anyway?
Welcome to Nothello, an absurdist, anarchic, insightful and witty new play from the Belgrade Theatre. Join us on an increasingly meta deep-dive into Shakespeare’s Othello, from the perspective of Othello and Desdemona’s unborn twins, exploring the play’s legacy and what it means to be of mixed-heritage.
Maybe we can imagine a version of Othello for today, where it’s not a tragedy anymore but a romance. Where Othello and Desdemona can start all over again, full of love and possibility – full of hope and wonder.
Aimee Powell (whose work with the Belgrade includes SeaView, Crongton Knights and Over the Top) will play ‘Desdeknownow’, Harris Cain (recently seen in Charlie and Stan for Told By An Idiot) will play ‘Nothello’, Rayyah McCaul (whose recent stage credits include A Doll’s House, Leeds Playhouse and An Eclipse of the Sun, touring) will play ‘Desdemona / Emilia’, Gabriel Akamo (whose stage credits include Lovesick, Hope Theatre and Zigger Zagger, Wilton’s Music Hall) will play ‘Othello / Otis’ and Alex Scott-Fairly (whose extensive stage credits include Round the Horne, touring, and Chicago, Pitlochry Festival Theatre) will play ‘Iago / Colin’.
The diverse company is completed Joelle Ikwa as Assistant Director, Simon Kenny as Designer, Ola Animashawun as Dramaturg, Ben Omerod as Lighting Designer, Arun Ghosh as Composer and Sound Designer, Rosie Kay as Movement Director, Shaun Cope as Movement Associate, Una May Olomolaiye as Songsmith and Victoria Williams as Voice Coach.
Justine Themen is a Theatre Director and Change Maker, committed to placing an integrated approach to artistic excellence and creative engagement at the beating heart of contemporary theatre. She is outgoing Deputy Artistic Director of the Belgrade Theatre and Co-Artistic Director for its City of Culture 2021 programme, and has recently been appointed as one of the first Leadership Associates at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Justine played a key role in the winning of the City of Culture title for Coventry, and directed Coventry Moves, its opening event, the first large-scale outdoor event in the UK as the country emerged from the second wave of the global pandemic.
Her work around diversity, community engagement and new work has driven the agenda for the Belgrade Theatre’s organisational change programme, ‘Keys’, and its new vision for a regional theatre for all; as well as influencing Coventry City of Culture’s co-created approach to programming.
Mojisola Adebayo is a playwright, performer, director, producer, workshop facilitator, mentor and lecturer. She holds a BA in Drama and Theatre Arts, an MA in Physical Theatre and a PhD in black queer theatre (Goldsmiths, Royal Holloway and Queen Mary, University of London). Mojisola trained extensively with Augusto Boal and is a specialist in Theatre of the Oppressed. She has worked in theatre, radio and television, on four continents, over the past 25 years, performing in over 50 productions, writing, devising and directing over 30 plays, from Antarctica to Zimbabwe. Mojisola is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, an Associate Artist with various organizations including Pan Arts, Building the Anti-Racist Classroom Collective, AICRE and Black Lives, Black Words, a Visiting Artist at Goldsmiths, University of London and Rose Bruford College, where she is also an Honorary Fellow. Mojisola is also a Lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London and a Research Fellow at University Potsdam. Mojisola is currently a commissioned artists with Counterpoints and will soon start as a Writer-on-attachment with the National Theatre. Her latest plays, STARS (Tamasha Theatre and ICA) and also the Alfred Fagon award-winning play Family Tree (Actors Touring Company and Young Vic) open in Spring 2023.
A key partner of Coventry UK City of Culture, the Belgrade Theatre’s 2021 programme has been led by three artists from diverse backgrounds, under the role of Co-Artistic Directors, alongside members of the local community. Corey Campbell, Balisha Karra and Justine Themen are developing a new vision and way of working for a 21st Century Theatre, bringing with them a unique perspective that celebrates Coventry’s diversity and drives positive change.
Nothello is the final production in the Belgrade Theatre’s programme of work for Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.