Othellos in Dialogue
Oct 23, 2021
Join Production Dramaturg Jocelyn Prince for this conversation about how actors have approached portraying the character of Othello on stage. Prince was joined by actors Kelvin Roston, Jr. (Othello in Court’s production of The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice), Allen Gilmore (who has played the role of both Othello and Iago in production), and Keith Hamilton Cobb (creator of American Moor) to discuss their processes and experiences bringing such a complex character to life, as well as what it means to tackle Shakespeare’s most famous Black character.
Allen has appeared at Court Theatre in Man in the Ring, Scapin, Cyrano (title role), Endgame, Sizwe Banzi Is Dead (title role), Jitney, The Misanthrope, Tartuffe, Seven Guitars, Waiting for Godot, The Good Book, and One Man, Two Guvnors. Other Chicago performances: Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and The African Company Presents Richard the Third (Congo Square); Argonautika and Arabian Nights (Lookingglass); Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Buried Child (Writers Theatre); Love’s Labor’s Lost (Chicago Shakespeare); The Matchmaker, Yasmina’s Necklace, An Enemy of the People, Objects in the Mirror, and three seasons as Scrooge (Alt.) in A Christmas Carol (Goodman). Originally from Houston, he is a U.S. Army Infantry veteran, a 2015 3Arts Award winner, a 2015 Lunt-Fontanne fellow, and a proud ensemble member of Congo Square.
Keith Hamilton Cobb
Keith is an actor and a playwright who has been drawn mostly to the stage in his working life, but is also recognized for several unique character portrayals he has created for television. He has appeared in classical and contemporary roles on regional stages country-wide. He is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in acting. His award-winning play, American Moor (published by Methuen Drama), which explores the perspective of the African American male through the metaphor of Shakespeare’s Othello, ran off-Broadway at Cherry Lane Theatre in the fall of 2019. It is the winner of an Elliot Norton Award, an AUDELCO Award, two IRNE Awards, and is part of the permanent collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Keith has recently begun work on a project called Untitled Othello, which operates as an extended touring “interrogation with actors” of Shakespeare’s play exploring the human struggles with race, religion, and sexuality that it activates whenever it is performed. The Untitled Othello ensemble begins its journey with a two-week table reading process hosted by Sacred Heart University and in conversation with undergraduates there and at the University of Maryland via livestream beginning on November 29. Learn more at AmericanMoor.com, UntitledOthello.com, and KeithHamiltonCobb.com.
Jocelyn is a Principal at ALJP Consulting. Selected Production Dramaturgy credits include Middle Passage (Lifeline Theatre); Invisible Man, The First Breeze of Summer, and Raisin (Court Theatre); A Raisin in The Sun (Juilliard School of Drama); Harriet Jacobs and Intimate Apparel (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Black Diamond (Lookingglass Theatre Company); The MLK Project (Writers Theatre). Jocelyn has directed new work for the Playwrights Gym at Dobama Theatre, the Cleveland Playwrights Festival at Playwrights Local 4181, The Dark Room at Cleveland Public Theater, the Go Green Festival at The Movement Theatre Company in NYC, the Around the Coyote Festival in Chicago, and Snapshots 10-Minute Play Festival at 20% Theatre Company Chicago. She has read and evaluated scripts for The Kilroys List, the Emerging Writers Group, The Ohio University Seabury Quinn, Jr. Playwrights’ Festival, and The PlayPenn conference. Her performance poetry has been featured by The Encyclopedia Show Chicago, The Encyclopedia Show DC, and La Ti Do. Jocelyn holds a B.A. in Journalism from Bradley University and a M.A. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University. She has written for TimeOut Chicago, TimeOut New York, The Chicago Reporter, Nonprofit Quarterly and the African American Review. Jocelyn has served on the faculties of Northwestern University and Yale University.
Kelvin Roston, Jr.
Court credits: Oedipus Rex, King Hedley II, Five Guys Named Moe, Seven Guitars, Porgy and Bess, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Chicagoland: Congo Square, Paramount, Marriott-Lincolnshire, Goodman, ITC, Eta, Writers, Black Ensemble, TimeLine, Northlight, Steppenwolf. Regional: The Black Rep (St. Louis), Fulton (Lancaster, PA), New Theatre (Overland Park, KS), MSMT (Brunswick, ME), Baltimore Center Stage, Mosaic (Washington DC), Apollo (New York). International: Orb (Tokyo), Festival Hall (Osaka, Japan). Television: Chicago Med, Chicago PD, South Side, KFC, Instant Care, Ace Hardware. Film: Get a Job, Princess Cyd, Breathing Room. Awards: Jeff Award, 3 BTA Awards, 2 Black Excellence Awards, NAMI Award. AEA, Paonessa Talent.
Through Dec 5 → The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice
Co-directors Charles Newell and Gabrielle Randle-Bent helm this theatrical examination of humanity and tragedy in Shakespeare’s fraught and famous work.
Nov 8 → Spotlight Reading: Desdemona
Written by acclaimed novelist Toni Morrison, Desdemona puts the doomed heroine of Shakespeare’s Othello center stage to reflect on the events of The Bard’s tragedy. Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance.
Dec 17, 18 → Mirrors and Misconceptions
Mirrors and Misconceptions pairs the visual art of Fred Wilson’s Murano Glass sculpture, Act V. Scene II Exeunt Omnes—the final stage direction in Shakespeare’s Othello—with Court Theatre’s production of The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice to build conversation and community while exploring themes on how Blackness is othered and perceived.