THEATRE INTERVIEW: The Othello Peckham Theatre Company this month and next stage their new production of one of the bard’s greatest plays.
The company name is something of a give away – their ‘Othello’ takes place at Peckham’s Bussey Building, aka The CLF Art Cafe. We caught up with director Anthony Green to find out more.
TW: What brought the Othello Peckham Theatre Company together?
AG: This production was inspired by The Royal Court’s residency at the Bussey Building. During their time there they reached out to the community, giving workshops and talks and being there for support. This level of engagement changed many people’s lives and got people excited about involvement in theatre. It inspired us, and empowered us. Inspiration and also practical help to get the production off the ground was also given by the new arts club, So and So Arts. Founder of the club Sarah Berger is working wonders to help all entertainment professionals, and this production could not have got off the ground without her.
TW: Are the members of the company residents of Peckham?
AG: The director of the play, Anthony Green, has lived in Peckham since 1999, and many of the cast and creatives live in Peckham, Denmark Hill, New Cross, and Crystal Palace.
TW: What made you decide to perform Othello?
AG: The play chose us.
TW: Why is the Bussey Building the right venue for this show?
AG: The Bussey Building is a hub of creativity. As Peckham does, the Bussey attracts interesting, creative, broad minded, talented artists of every age and every background. What Mickey Smith and his team at The CLF Art Cafe have achieved at the Bussey Building is to bring together all art forms – music, theatre, comedy, opera, painting, film and more. The building itself becomes part of the art. It is an inspiring place to be. Some spaces just are.
TW: This production appears to be set in the present. Can you tell us a little about how you’ve gone about conveying that?
AG: This production is indeed set in the present. The designer Catherine Morgan’s challenge was to keep the hierarchy so intrinsic to the play. Shakespeare’s character, Othello, is a renowned mercenary soldier. It is with modern day mercenaries, the now booming and mysterious world of private armies that do government’s bidding, where we set the play, and against this backdrop of the cut-throat competition for military contracts, we explore the more localised battle.
TW: Does setting the play in the present increase its current relevance?
AG: The themes of this play and all Shakespeare plays seem to be just as relevant today as they were in Shakespeare’s time.
TW: Can you sell the show in 50 words (or thereabouts…)?
AG: In this play we have explored the question of can love win? Can love rise above and win against insecurity? Fighting for love is the only battle in this play. Is there a way for love to win, even if it loses?
Othello runs at The CLF Art Cafe, The Bussey Building, until 22 Feb. You can book tickets here.