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Othello: Shakespeare’s Tragic Tale of Otherness

Shakespeare’s sympathy for the Jews is explicitly expressed in “The Merchant of Venice,” his only play with a Jewish central character. Shylock has been studied and hotly debated. Is he a victim of persecution? Why did Shakespeare choose to explore the plight of an outsider, reviled for his religion? Does the play support in some way the English antipathy for the Jews that caused them to be exiled years before Shakespeare’s day? Did the Bard know any Jews on whom to model Shylock? Was Shakespeare unusually tolerant for his time?

Those who argue that his plays demonstrate a world view that shuns prejudice often point to “Othello” as an example of this enlightened attitude. Race is undeniably a particularly critical factor in “Othello,” the story of the “dark Moor” who succumbs to sexual jealousy amidst a white society. Why does Iago mislead Othello so cruelly? And why does Othello believe Iago’s lies, and ultimately commit the heinous act of killing his beloved wife? What does Shakespeare mean to say in this scenario? Is “Othello” another example of fear of “the other” in Shakespeare’s plays?

The idea of otherness will be the topic of conversation prior to the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Othello” on Tuesday,  July 28, 6:30 pm. The group outing includes discounted tickets to the play, presented in the Mary Rippon (outdoor) Theater. At 5:00 pm, Menorah will serve a light, box-lunch meal, and offer conversation led by several experts., including CSF Dramaturg Bianca Gordon.

“Othello” is directed by Lisa Wolpe, and stars Emmy Award-winning actor Peter Macon, with local favorite Geoffrey Kent as Iago.


Join Menorah for group tickets and discussion of “Othello and Otherness”


TUESDAY, JULY 28, 6:30 pm

Boxed Dinner and Talk at 5:00 pm

Mary Rippon Theater and CSF Lawn

$55: Tickets for dinner and orchestra seats

(regularly $50 pp)


You will be contacted for your meal choice by July 10.

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Director of Menorah: Arts, Culture and Education at the Boulder JCC. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time."

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