Here’s another one of our thought exercises, let’s see if it goes anywhere.
The issue of racism is an interesting one in Othello. People think that it’s going to be a racist play, what with it’s black hero and all. But really, other than some fairly blatant racist commentary in the beginning it’s not really about race at all, si it? We’re not led to believe that Othello killed his wife because he’s a black guy.
Now, here’s my spin. Imagine if Othello was white … and Iago is the black guy. Keep everything else, plot wise, as identical as you can. Naturally a bunch of the early, cruder commentary directed at Othello would have to be altered. But the story could remain much the same.
Except that now, Iago’s a black guy who was passed over for promotion, by a white guy, for a white guy. How does that change him as a character? Is he still a villain?
I know that Patrick Stewart was involved in a completely race-reversed Othello where he played a white Othello to an otherwise all black cast. That tells a different story. I’m wondering what would happen if race played a role in the development of the villain, rather than the hero.