Polyphonic Characterisation: Composing Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello – Sinéad Rushe

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A performance talk

Theatre director Sinéad Rushe discusses the rehearsal process for her forthcoming production of Othello at Riverside Studios Hammersmith (4-28 October 2023), starring Martins Imhangbe (Bridgerton). In particular, she shares her fascinating new take on the character of Iago, whose shape-shifting, corrosive force is dramatised by an ensemble of three actors, a contagion that infects Othello’s imagination and surrounds him from all sides.

The squad of Iagos revels in different manoeuvres: switching between a public and private ‘face’, replacing each other as reinforcements, and swarming together as a collective, strategic think-tank. In collaboration with sound designer Ali Taie, the production explores live vocal manipulation to evoke the nightmarish mental space of Othello’s hijacked, distorted imagination.

The talk includes extracts performed by the actors playing Iago: Michael Fox, Orlando James and Jeremy Neumark Jones.

Watch a glimpse of work in progress of the production here.

2 hours including Q&A.


Sinéad Rushe is a theatre director and acting coach. She trained at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama London. She is Lead Acting Tutor at RADA and artistic director of Creative Actor Training. She is the author of Michael Chekhov’s Acting Technique: A Practitioner’s Guide (Bloomsbury 2019) and co-translator into French of four plays by Howard Barker (Editions Théâtrales).

Directing credits include:
AntigoneNOW, a performance film created as Granada Artist-in-Residence, UCDavis, USA, selected for Cairo International Festival of Experimental Theatre, School of Sound, Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts, SPE Media Film Festival; Loaded, Old Rep Birmingham, developed at Choreodrome, The Place Theatre London; Concert, The Pit, Barbican, Baryshnikov Arts Centre, New York & international tour (Gradam Comharcheoil TG4 2018 Award-Winner/New York Bessie Award Nominee); Night Just Before the Forests, Macau Arts Festival, China; Diary of a Madman, Sherman Cymru, Wales & international tour (Welsh Theatre Critics Best Actor/British Council Award); Out of Time, The Pit, Barbican, Baryshnikov Arts Centre & international tour (Olivier and Dance Critic’s Circle Award Nominee).


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