Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief CSI

Desdemona: A play about a handkerchief: CSI
J.D. Capelouto and Megan Rodgers

  • Paula Vogel
    • Married to Anne Fausto Sterling - professor of gender studies
    • Pulitzer prize for How I Learned to Drive
  • First produced in New York City in 1993
  • The 1990’s were an age of “Third-Wave feminism”
    • During this time feminists challenged traditional gender roles and norms, especially the claim that women cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys can; it was a time where sexual freedom was somewhat celebrated
  • Class warfare and conflict was big in the 1990’s, especially in New York (Think “Rent”)
  • Written as a tribute (“rip-off”) to Shakespeare the Sadist by Wolfgang Bauer, in which the scenes are written as multiple “takes” with short breaks in between.

  • Feminism
    • Vogel explores women's limited roles in the male-dominated society of Ancient Cyprus.
    • Desdemona feels trapped in her marriage and suppressed by Othello so she escapes by going to Bianca’s brothel
    • Relationships between the women of the play are the main focus
      • Main focus is on relationship between Emilia and Desdemona - their fates both depend on how much they trust each other
    • Bianca is viewed as a “free woman” who is not held down by marriage
    • Desdemona wears a moon ring and gives it to Emelia - this symbolizes feminine power, sensuality, and fertility
  • Class Relationships
    • Relationship between the three different classes (Upper, middle, low) represented by the three women
    • Desdemona, high class, uses Bianca, low class, for amusement: “I never tire of hearing your stories...What else have I got for amusement’s sake” (p. 37)
    • Desdemona treats Emelia like she is on a lower level, but Emelia does the same thing to Bianca
  • Deception and Trust
    • Desdemona and Othello   
      • Desdemona actually does betray Othello’s trust in this version
      • Deceives him into thinking she is innocent
        • white outfit
        • arranges her face into an insipid, fluttering innocence, then girlishly runs to the door” (pg. 12) - Desdemona stage direction as she prepares to go see Othello
    • Desdemona and Emilia
      • Desdemona originally plans on leaving Emilia behind but decieves her into thinking that she will bring her
        • Eventually tells her the truth and trusts that Emilia won’t tell Othello
      • Emilia deceives Desdemona about handkerchief
        • Eventually changes her mind and tells Desdemona of the plot to save her life
      • The two eventually come to trust each other but by that point it is too late; Desdemona’s fate is sealed
  • Fate
    • Desdemona was destined to die and even her knowing about the plot was not enough to save her life
    • Even though this Desdemona is different than what we know from the traditional version, she is still destined to the same fate and cannot change it

  • Shakespeare’s Othello
    • Uses same characters but changes their personalities - especially Desdemona’s
    • Some scenes from Othello are alluded to but not directly shown
      • scene where Othello slaps Desdemona because of handkerchief (p. 13)
  • Biblical References
    • Emilia is the more religious character, also portrayed as the only one to remain faithful
      • Rosary beads
      • Constantly praying
    • Contradictory messages from the Bible? (pro-faith, anti-woman)

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