Hilo Community Players presents Othello

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald The Hilo Community Players rehearse some of William Shakespeare's best-loved scenes, sonnets and soliloquies for the 40th anniversary of Shakespeare in the Park with "The Best of the Bard, Too!" that will play throughout the month in Kalakaua Park.

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Alston Albarado as Mmmbeth and Sadie Dossett as Lady Mmmbeth rehearse for the Kid Shakes performance of "Mmmbeth" for the 40th anniversary of Shakespeare in the Park with "The Best of the Bard, Too!" that will play throughout the month in Kalakaua Park.

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Actors rehearse for the "Kid Shakes" performance of "Mmmbeth" for the 40th anniversary of Shakespeare in the Park with "The Best of the Bard, Too!" that will play throughout the month in Kalakaua Park.

With a global pandemic disrupting lives and events across the world, the days of catching a live show or performing in front of an audience in person feel like a distant memory. Theaters around the world have been forced to shutter their doors and hundreds of stages now sadly sit empty while many companies have taken to staging online readings via Zoom. But the shared experience that makes live theater truly magical is that human-to-human, actor-to-audience exchange of energy in real time that can’t be replicated over video chat.

The Hilo Community Players have decided to stay true to that fundamental tenet of showbiz while adding a new caveat for 2020: “The show must go on (safely).”

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This summer’s offering of William Shakespeare’s Othello will be the 43rd production of the Players’ celebrated Shakespeare in the Park tradition. Determined not to let a worldwide pandemic interrupt such an impressive streak, HCP President Rachel Klein and Othello Director Sarah Elliott have a plan to mount Othello, continue our community’s cherished summer institution, and keep everyone safe and healthy — actors and audience alike.

“Shakespeare in the Park…ing Lot” is an exciting twist on the longest continuously-running theatrical Shakespeare tradition in Hawaii. The Players invite you to enjoy a fully-mounted live theatrical experience July 24-26 and July 30-31 and Aug. 1 at 7:30 p.m. from the safety and comfort of your own vehicle in the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium parking lot in Hilo.

Presented in this innovative drive-in format, the Players offer both live theater and safe social distancing — the best of both worlds for a no-stress evening of entertainment. Admission is free, though donations are graciously accepted. Just bring your own phone app and speakers or radio to tune into an FM frequency and enjoy the beautiful language and crystal-clear sound of actors bringing this enduring classic to life.

Often referred to as the Bard’s “most perfect” tragedy, Othello or The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s most-produced plays — a remarkable distinction considering that theater had borrowed from his extensive catalogue of works almost constantly for the last 400 years. Themes of racism, xenophobia, female agency in patriarchal society, the insidiousness of jealousy (originating “the green-eyed monster” turn of phrase we still use today), and fundamental human nature are woven throughout this heartbreaking love story. The chilling inevitability of a pair of doomed lovers undone by a villain so compelling and complex that he stands head and shoulders above any other bad guy in Shakespeare’s canon. It’s a thrilling, can’t-miss production with a small, immensely talented group of actors.

Talented Oahu guest actor and University of Hawaii at Manoa theater graduate Jarren Amian joins the cast as the tragic hero in the titular role. Theon Weber, who starred in Shakespeare in the Park’s 2019 Hamlet, now takes on Iago, the Bard’s most famous villain, while Alya-Joy Kanehailua portrays gentle but spirited heroine Desdemona. Angie Nakamura is Emilia, Desdemona’s lady-in-waiting and Iago’s long-suffering wife, while Noam Akiba-Hajim portrays earnest, gullible Roderigo. Hank Widdecombe is handsome ladies’ man Cassio, William McGregor plays angry patriarch Brabantio and the valiant Montano, while lady-of-the-night Bianca is played by Celaney Carpenter. Robin Rihl performs the role of noble Lodovico, and Shakespeare in the Park veteran John Kooistra rounds out the cast as both the virtuous Duke of Venice and Othello’s perpetually unbothered and unhelpful Clown.

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The civic parking lot will open at 6:30 p.m. each night, one hour prior to show time. Bathrooms and concessions will be available onsite. Masks will be required when outside of your vehicle.

For more information, visit www.hiloplayers.org or email hilocommunityplayers@gmail.com.

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