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The Belgrade Theatre to stage world premiere of Nothello as part of City of Culture celebration

Nothello. Photo credit Nicola Young.
Nothello. Photo credit Nicola Young.

The Belgrade Theatre will present the world premiere of Nothello – the climax of its City of Culture 2021 programme of work.

Written and devised by Mojisola Adebayo, William Shakespeare and Justine Themen, Nothello is inspired by interviews with mixed heritage couples and individuals who live locally, and featuring a mixed heritage community chorus from across the city.

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Nothello will play at the Belgrade from 7 – 21 May 2022 and will be the final production of the Belgrade’s City of Culture programme.

Is the only part Shakespeare wrote for a black man actually just, well… a bit rubbish? 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 an unborn child, 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.

The Belgrade Theatre are looking for community members to help devise and participate in Nothello. They are searching for a mixed race youth group to assist the director in devising the piece, a mixed race chorus to write and perform songs, and interracial couples who will perform as dancers in the show. More information on this call out is available here.

Justine Themen said: “The mixed heritage population is the fastest-growing ethnic group in the UK, and interracial relationships are on the rise – as is expected to be evidenced by the result of the 2021 census, due out late spring. I’m excited that in the final show of our City of Culture year, we can challenge the impossibility of love across the divide. Instead, moving forward from a year of extraordinary and diverse storytelling, we can celebrate with our city and our audiences how we can be enriched by difference, rather than challenged by it.”

Mojisola Adebayo added: “I am incredibly excited to be working on this new production with Justine Themen and people from across Coventry – a city that has so much to teach the rest of the country about relationships between people of African, Caribbean, Asian and European descent, from two-tone to this new play for today”.

For more information and tickets, visit belgrade.co.uk


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