Chicago Youth Shakespeare Presents 

Othello

By William Shakespeare

About the Play

Othello is the captain of his university's lacrosse team and he seems to have it all: athletic achievement, a thriving social life, and the love of the most popular girl on campus, Desdemona. Plus, he's named his best friend and frat brother Michael Cassio to be his co-captain and right-hand man. Enter "honest Iago," a fellow frat brother and a trusted confidante of Othello's. Secretly consumed with hate and driven to bring Othello down by any means necessary, Iago weaves a web of lies that may just change life on campus forever.

*CONTENT WARNING: This production contains depictions of violence (sexual, physical, & suicidal), alcohol consumption by minors, and racially-charged language.  

Cast of Characters
Set in a modern-day fraternity house at an unnamed university

Othello - Frat star and captain of the Lacrosse team………...…………..………............……………..Freedom Martin

Iago - Everyone’s trusted bro and “Go-to Guy,” harboring some serious secrets………...……..........Luke Steadman

Desdemona - Othello’s faithful girlfriend and model student………………………..….......…...………..Sonia Zartman

Emilia - Iago’s girlfriend and BFF to Desdemona, always speaks her mind……….……..………........Alyssa Coughlin

Roderigo - Frat star wannabe and Desdemona admirer/possible stalker…………....................….Kevin Johnson
Cassio - Othello’s faithful sidekick - especially on the field………….…………….….......……..……..…...…...Izzy Terrell

Brabantio - Desdemona’s dad, the overbearing type / Montano - A LAX/Frat bro…………..….Siah Berlatsky 
The Duke - Frat House Director / Lodovica - Dean of Students (& Desi’s cousin)……………….......Esther Segal

Bianca - A girl we see around campus a lot, has a bit of a bad reputation, but a big heart……….….Lauren Marut


Contributing Youth Artists &  Staff
*CYS PROGRAM ALUM

Ryan Borgdorff*

Artistic Apprentice/Understudy

Annie Fishbein
Production/Stage Manager

Kevin Johnson*

Fight Choreographer

Caelan Reeves*
Photography & Media Design

Declan Ryan
Production Composer

Freya Trefonides*
Artistic Apprentice/Understudy

Sarah Bell
Contributing Teaching Artist

Evelyn Reidy
 
Director of Communications / Lead Teaching Artist

 Manon Spadaro
Artistic Director

      Learn more about the Othello cast and the contributing youth artists HERE  

Special Thanks

(Directorless) Director’s Note

We should start by saying that at CYS, our mission has always been to make Shakespeare's work accessible and relevant to young artists and young audience members. For this reason, CYS productions have no “Director” perse; but rather, they are conceived collaboratively by the ensemble members themselves, with guidance and support from CYS artistic staff.

When we sat down to discuss Othello, we couldn't ignore how the themes that drive the action of this 400-year-old play are the same issues confronting young people and our world today. Racism, sexism, relationship abuse, expectations of masculinity -- these are all issues that our students see on the news and encounter in their own lives and the lives of their friends and loved ones as they navigate through a complicated and often unfair world.

We chose to set our telling of this story  in an environment where systemic racism would be ingrained into the culture, where a "Boys will be boys" attitude would be normalized, and where we would be confronted with just how difficult it can be to be a young person in a high pressure social environment. In setting our play in an athletics-based fraternity, we don't mean to generalize these groups, but to point out the dangers facing these environments when left unchecked, especially for young women and young people of color. We hope a new look at this classic text will raise questions about our personal prejudices, our ingrained biases, and how our interactions carry a world of consequences for the people around us.

About CYS 

Chicago Youth Shakespeare [CYS] is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to putting Shakespeare’s timeless works into the hands of 21st-century teenagers. CYS provides innovative educational outreach programs and performances that connect young adults across Chicagoland with Shakespeare and with each other.  ​CYS is committed to providing a safe space for students of all backgrounds, and to fostering a diverse community of creative and compassionate global citizens.

Board of Directors

Amy Kleinman*

Louis Fantasia

Lawrence Grimm

Sylvi Kuperman

William Loesch

Lee May

David Michel

Samuela Noumchuet

Bonnie Seebold

Manon Spadaro

Joshua Zambrano

*Board President

CYS programs are made possible by generous support from individual donors and by


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