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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 12, 2004

Tickets Become Available For Feb. 17-18 'Othello' Performances In Hancher

The Feb. 17-18 performances of Shakespeare's "Othello" by the Aquila Theatre Company were once sold out, but the release of tickets previously reserved has made seats available for both 8 p.m. performances in Hancher Auditorium.

Before the Feb. 18 performance, that evening's ticket holders may attend a free 7 p.m. discussion in the Hancher greenroom.

The performances are part of "Shakespeare in American Communities," the most ambitious theatrical project ever undertaken by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Specializing in classical drama, the New York- and London-based company presents fresh, energetic and inventive productions without compromising the texts. A story in The New Yorker commented, "Aquila's productions are beautifully spoken, dramatically revealing and crystalline in effect."

Fresh from acclaimed productions of "The Comedy of Errors" and "Much Ado about Nothing," this ensemble of British and American actors plumbs the depths of tragedy in one of Shakespeare's greatest plays.

Set in a hotbed of racial hatred, jealousy and mistrust, this drama explores the destruction of a noble spirit. Othello, a Moor and mercenary for the Venetian army, secretly marries Desdemona, the daughter of a high-powered senator. Othello's ensign, Iago, enraged at being passed over for promotion and envious of Othello's conquests, begins his revenge.

Iago is the trusted friend and confidant to Othello, and cunningly uses his position to plant seeds of jealousy and doubt in Othello's mind about his wife's fidelity. Meanwhile, with brilliant Machiavellian duplicity, he advises Desdemona to act in ways that will only fuel her husband's suspicions.

In this psychological character study, only the audience is aware of Iago's villainous plan. He confesses to them throughout the play and they watch, captivated, as he makes "the net that shall enmesh them all."

Drawing from the company's expertise in classical theater, Aquila's production finds a recent setting capable of bringing relevance and clarity to this Shakespearean tragedy. An original musical score with an epic and filmic quality heightens and intensifies the experience.

A review in the Greenville (S.C.) News concluded, "The Aquila Theatre production of Shakespeare's 'Othello' proved how powerful theater can be under the command of an extraordinary company."

And a review in the Reading (Pa.) Eagle noted, "This production of 'Othello' has been streamlined and pared down into a sturdy, very military drama by director Robert Richmond, who adapted it to make it clear for newcomers to Shakespeare without destroying the beauty of the language or the sense of the plot."

The "Shakespeare in American Communities" touring initiative is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Sallie May Fund in cooperation with Arts Midwest. Local sponsors are Douglas and Linda Paul, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

The released tickets are $30; UI student $24; senior citizen $24; youth $15.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to 319-353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail:

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

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