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This content is taken from the University of Birmingham & Royal Shakespeare Company's online course, Othello: In Performance. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds ANJNA CHOUHAN: The tragic catastrophe functions as a kind of resolution and allows for the release of all the dramatic energy and tension in the final moments of the play. The buildup to Desdemona’s murder, the encounter between Desdemona and Othello, and the murder itself, and the aftermath, must hold on to the dramatic momentum of the earlier scenes so that the inevitable mass loss of life still feels draining and heartbreaking.

Skip to 0 minutes and 40 seconds IQBAL KHAN: I think, with a tragedy, even though the audience feels the compelling movement towards destruction, you have to make them forget. You have to make them feel that, at every single point, there are various trajectories– paths– that the drama could take, and then it doesn’t.

Skip to 1 minute and 4 seconds ANJNA CHOUHAN: In the final act, Othello enters the bedchamber, and all hopes of a resolution stand on a knife’s edge. You will now see the company experiment with and discuss the final scene. As you watch, consider how Desdemona and Othello engage with and response to one another. Is this a scene that grows organically from the actors and their choices? Do we really believe that Othello is capable of murdering his wife at this point in the interpretation? And, does it matter that we believe it?

The tragic loading of this bed

In this video Anjna focuses on the murder of Desdemona and its aftermath, introducing Act 5 Scene 2 and some questions to consider as you watch the scene in performance and in discussion with the acting company.

Having watched the video, share your thoughts on the following question in the Comments:

  • What are you most interested to see as you watch the possible interpretations and final choices of the 2015 acting company and director Iqbal Khan?

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This video is from the free online course:

Othello: In Performance

University of Birmingham