Middle School Puts a Twist on Othello
Their work together grew into a contemporary update on the classic play. Through music, dance, and costume, they set out to make Othello relevant for young people in Harlem today.
“We learned that there’s always some place in a Shakespeare play where the Elizabethan actors did a dance,” said eighth grader Ariana. “When we saw the Classic Stage Company production, they did the party scene to Beyoncé music.”
They asked for permission to choreograph a hip-hop dance for their production. The answer from director Whitney Wood was, “Learn your lines first, then go for it.” Eighth grader Misa choreographed three different dances that incorporated all of the students. “Most of the moves were inspired by different hip hop songs and videos I’ve seen,” Misa said.
Seventh grader Yealie and others took on the music, smoothing out scene transitions with pop and hip hop songs. “We thought, Okay, what is the mood in this scene? and about what songs would show that.” They ended up using Taylor Swift, Drake, and Lorde.
“We all added our own spice to it and made it fun,” said Ariana. “At the end, we felt like it really represented us – our time and place.”