What last image would you want an audience to be left with in a production of Othello?

The final stage direction (Exeunt) is for all the remaining actors to go off, but there are important choices for a director to make. For example, would you have them all leaving together? Would you want the bodies on the be spot-lit or obscured by curtains—and where does Emilia’s corpse lie? Might you wish to end with a tableau involving all or some of the remaining characters? Should there be music? Describe your suggestions for a final stage image and explain your ideas.

The last image that one might want to leave the audience with if directing Othello would be a clear sense of the useless tragedy through the use of lighting, props, and silence.

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This is an interesting question because it leaves so much to the imagination. Shakespeare's stage directions are purposefully always vague, so to have the freedom to design the final image(s) that the audience would see in a production of Othello is quite a treat!

Act 5 of Othello is highly dramatic, so the final moments of the play should echo that drama. What directing the play would give is the opportunity to refocus the play on the two characters who are the most key to the progression of the plot as a whole: Othello and Iago. Although Lodovico is technically the last person to speak in the play, his role overall is extremely minor. Thus, I might have him narrate while walking past the other characters with lights on those other characters as he speaks. Firstly, he speaks to Iago. Then, he tells Gratiano to take care of Othello's things. Then, he appoints Cassio as governor and permits him to punish Iago in whatever way he sees fit. Then, he says that he will return to Venice with the story of what occurred, specifically in reference to Othello and Desdemona.

A prop that would allow blood to run from the bed where Othello and Desdemona are laying onto the floor surrounding them would be an extremely powerful image with which to end. Although music could be used effectively here, I believe that silence would send an air of solemnity more effectively, thus demonstrating the sheer waste of life that took place. I would leave the light on them for the last few moments while Lodovico exited following his monologue. Then, I would have Gratiano follow since they traveled together. I would choose to leave Cassio and Iago onstage until the curtains closed to emphasize their ties with the dead couple.

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