Drama GCSE: Othello – Themes and Contemporary Approach

We see inside the rehearsal room for Nicholas Hytner’s 2013 production of 'Othello' for the National Theatre.

The cast and crew are assembled, and Hytner tells the company that the army are absolutely essential to this play.

A military advisor is brought in, to advise the actors on how to act and dress like contemporary service personnel. Major-General Jonathan Shaw told the actors how to wear their berets and boots, and we see the performance footage showing the highly accurate costumes in this contemporary production.

Director Nicholas Hytner explains that one thing he learnt from Jonathan Shaw is the importance of trust between military personnel. This fed into their interpretation of the play as Iago is able to manipulate Othello due to how much Othello trusts him.

This clip is from BBC series Arena: The National Theatre.

Teacher Notes

This clip could be used to explore how a Shakespeare play can be adapted into a contemporary setting.

Students could look at and research other contemporary settings of Shakespeare plays.

This clip could also be used to explore the play Othello and its characters as well as the role of the military in other plays.

Curriculum Notes

This clip could be relevant for teaching Drama at KS4/GCSE level in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Drama at National 4 and 5 in Scotland.

Othello is also a set text on the post-2015 WJEC/Eduqas English Literature GCSE syllabus.

More from Arena: The National Theatre

Attracting New Audiences to the Theatre
An introduction to the National Theatre
Making Shakespeare Contemporary
Making Theatre Relevant