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Chapter 26 - ‘Thou Hast Set Me on the Rack’

Torture and Modern Warfare in Iqbal Khan’s Othello (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2015)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2023

Amy Lidster
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
Sonia Massai
Affiliation:
King's College London
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Summary

This interview offers Iqbal Khan’s directorial perspective on his influential production of Othello (2015). The casting of Hugh Quarshie as Othello and Lucian Msamati as Iago made Othello a play more about intra-racial than inter-racial relations. However, Khan explains how the inclusion of references to the torture of prisoners of war by the allied forces during the Iraq War helped him highlight the ways in which Othello is more than a play about its protagonist’s doubt about his place as a person of colour in a world dominated by people with different traditions that exclude him. According to Khan, the play is equally (if not more) invested in exploring the nature of Othello’s work and the nature of his experience as the leader of mercenary forces. Besides, as Khan points out, the questions that haunt Othello haunt all of us. Some of these questions – including what makes up one’s systems of loyalty, what makes up one’s systems of justice and judgement, or whom one is accountable to – are especially problematic at times of war, because they often reveal a slippage between lack of control (and victimhood) and abuse of power (and complicity).

Type
Chapter
Information
Shakespeare at War
A Material History
, pp. 249 - 254
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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