By Caitlyn Callegari
October 28, 2015
As any high school English teacher will tell you, back in the day, the cast for one of Shakespeare’s plays would have been comprised of men, and men only. Thankfully, we’re currently living in this day and age, and one organization has decided to pointedly flipped the switch. Safe Horizon, “the nation’s leading domestic violence and victims service agency, ” and Public Forum put together an all-female performance of Othello, titled, “An Evening with Desdemona and Emilia.” And their reason for doing so is an important one: raising awareness for domestic violence by emphasizing the domestic violence in the play.
What’s it like to watch Othello performed by a wonderfully diverse and talented group of women, ranging from actresses such as [Lily] Rabe to activists like Miss America 2015, Kira Kazantsev? It was a revelation in that it’s both unsettling and not. Seeing women embrace these menacing roles with not only traditionally masculine, but also misogynistic attributes, seems odd at first. But then, you realize that the feeling of absurdity is indicative of a greater social construct — the idea that something can even be “traditionally” feminine or masculine. It was as moving and heartbreaking as it was thought provoking.