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Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief - A Feminist Retelling of Othello

Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief - A Feminist Retelling of Othello

Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief is a 1994 play by American playwright Paula Vogel. It is a reimagining of Shakespeare's tragedy Othello, focusing on the lives and experiences of three women: Desdemona, Emilia, and Bianca.

Desdemona A Play About A Handkerchief Pdf Free


The play is set in Cyprus, where Desdemona has followed her husband Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army. However, unlike in Shakespeare's version, Desdemona is not a faithful and virtuous wife, but a rebellious and promiscuous one. She has an affair with Cassio, Othello's lieutenant, and also visits Bianca, a prostitute and a friend. Emilia, Desdemona's maid and Iago's wife, is aware of her mistress's infidelity and tries to protect her from Othello's wrath. However, Emilia also has her own secrets and ambitions, as she plots to steal Desdemona's handkerchief, a gift from Othello that symbolizes their love.

The play explores the themes of gender, race, class, sexuality, and power in the context of patriarchal society. It challenges the stereotypes and expectations of women in Shakespeare's time and ours. It also exposes the hypocrisy and violence of men who claim to love women but ultimately destroy them.

Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief is a dark comedy that subverts and critiques the original tragedy. It gives voice and agency to the female characters who are often silenced and marginalized in Shakespeare's works. It is a provocative and compelling play that invites us to rethink our assumptions and perspectives on Othello and its characters.The play consists of 13 scenes, each featuring two or three of the women. The scenes are not chronological, but rather follow a thematic and emotional logic. The play begins and ends with Desdemona and Emilia alone in Desdemona's bedroom, where the final confrontation between Othello and Desdemona will take place. In between, we see glimpses of Desdemona's affair with Cassio, her friendship with Bianca, her frustration with Othello, and her defiance of social norms. We also see Emilia's struggle with loyalty, jealousy, and ambition, as well as Bianca's dreams of escaping her life of prostitution.

The play uses a mixture of modern and Elizabethan language, as well as some Italian and Turkish words. The play also incorporates songs, dances, and rituals that reflect the cultural diversity of Cyprus. The play is meant to be performed with minimal props and costumes, relying on the actors' expressions and movements to convey the characters' emotions and motivations.

Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief is a witty and powerful play that offers a new perspective on one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies. It is a play that celebrates the complexity and strength of women, while also exposing the cruelty and injustice of men.The play was first performed in 1979 at the Circle Repertory Company in New York City, directed by Gloria Muzio and starring Mary McDonnell as Desdemona, Pamela Reed as Emilia, and Tanya Berezin as Bianca. The play received positive reviews and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play. The play has since been performed in various theaters around the world, including London, Sydney, Toronto, and Chicago.

The play was also adapted into a film in 1997, directed by David Thacker and starring Imogen Stubbs as Desdemona, Saskia Reeves as Emilia, and Zoe Wanamaker as Bianca. The film was shot in Cyprus and used the original script with some minor changes. The film received mixed reviews and was not widely distributed.

The play is considered one of Vogel's most important and influential works. Vogel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who is known for her experimental and provocative plays that deal with social issues such as AIDS, incest, domestic violence, and racism. Some of her other notable plays include How I Learned to Drive, The Baltimore Waltz, The Mineola Twins, and Indecent. e0e6b7cb5c


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