Leading men bring ‘Othello’ to life in summer Shakespeare

By From page B1 | July 18, 2014

FAIRFIELD — Carla Spindt was faced with an enviable decision. She had some talented black actors who deserved a lead, but only one main character for them to play.

The solution: Let them all play the lead in “Othello” in the “Othello Project” at different performances.

“It didn’t seem fair to give the role to just one,” said Spindt, a professor of theater at Solano Community College.

Summer Shakespeare is a ritual for Spindt, as well as summer theater students at the college. Performances are at the college this year, having moved from the Suisun City Harbor waterfront and Suisun City’s Harbor Theatre.

This show also introduces a female, Vacaville’s Janessa Mosquedo, into the role of Iago, the antagonist.

Mosquedo has decided to play the character as a female.

“It works well,” she said of her adaptation. “I’m able to do things the boys aren’t able to do.”

Thing such as playing on a woman’s sexuality.

The experience is teaching her the importance of putting one’s self into a character to bring it to life.

“I have to put a little of myself into it to make it real,” she said.

Randal Chun also plays Iago, a character he calls “nuts.” He said Iago acts with the belief that the end justifies the means.

“He’s so manipulative,” Chun said.

Demetric Gamble sees Othello remaining an authority figure despite what’s going on his personal life.

“When he walks into the room, regardless of the situation, he’s still a commanding figure,” Gamble said.

Local theater veteran Adam Wayne Gistarb draws from within for his portrayal of the man who is driven to kill his wife and then learns what he thought was an adulterous affair was a ruse.

“This is kind of terrifying,” he said of having a lead role. “I’ve never had a challenge like this.”

He’s always wanted to play the Moorish general.

“His weakness is his trust in Iago,” Gistarb said.

There’s a bit of Iago in everyone, said Conner Watson, who is also playing the character. The difference is how one acts on that part of their personality, he said.

Elements of the Shakespeare tragedy are still relevant today, with its themes of racism, love, jealousy and betrayal, Watson said.

He’s striving to play Iago as less of a villain.

“I respect his drive,” Watson said. “I respect his pushing forward.”

Playing Iago offers him the chance to cross another character off his “bucket list,” he said.

Sean McNamee is Rodrigo, whom he calls “mostly a hated character.”

It’s his second venture into the world of Shakespeare. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was his first.

“I love the theater,” he said. McNamee played the mysterious man in “Into the Woods” at Dixon High School last year.

The “Othello Project” is set in a modern-day military.

This is Spindt’s second time at the helm of “Othello.”

The first featured an all-female cast.

There are numerous reasons she chose this Shakespeare tragedy, including the journey Othello takes as he transforms from a general and leader into a jealous man. The transformation comes at the hand of someone Othello thinks of as a friend, Spindt said.

“There’s a range of emotions (in the play),” she said.

The “Othello Project” will have outdoor and indoor performances. Those attending outdoor shows should bring their own lawn chairs and dress warmly. Picnics are welcome.

Admission is free to all shows. Donations support the program.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.


“The Othello Project”

  • Solano Community College Theater production
  • 7 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, July 25, July 27, July 31 and Aug. 1 (all are outdoor shows, grassy area in front of theater)
  • 2 p.m. July 26-27 and Aug. 3 (inside the theater)
  • 7 p.m. July 26, Aug. 2-3 (inside the theater)
  • Solano Community College, 4000 Suisun Valley Road, Fairfield
  • 864-7000, ext. 4693
  • www.solano.edu/theater
Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.

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