When comparing and contrasting the character’s Oedipus and Othello by meansof the different theatrical practices, one must take in account that there have beenmany interpretations, and productions of each of their respected plays. The differingpresentations of each may lead someone to think differently about the play thananother would. In comparing and contrasting the dramatic representation of theprotagonists Oedipus and Othello, theatrical presentation, costume design, andcharacter will lead the reader, and viewer, to have a greater insight into the theatricalpractices of their times and their approaches to the issue of verisimilitude. The theatrical presentation of both plays are very similar.
The two plays wouldboth be presented on a thrust stage, which is a platform surrounded on three sides bythe audience. Except for the backdrop which would have some element of scenery,the stage itself would be bare apart from a few scenic elements and props. Othello,like most of Shakespeare’s plays, had what is called an abstract setting. That is asetting in which the locale may change rapidly, it may not be indicated by the scriptthat it has changed, and was most likely suggested by a few props. Abstract settingsplace more emphasis on the language and the performer, which causes the spectatorto use their imagination.
It also places more emphasis on costuming. This type of66setting helped set up the style of representational theater, which places high emphasison the realistic. The style used in classical Greece was presentational which, becauseof the use of the mask, gave no illusion that this story is happening before their eyes. The audience is reminded that they are watching a play, and not merely observinglife. Thus, the use of the thrust stage is the only similarity of the two types ofpresentation.
Othello is a purely illusionistic play, whereas Oedipus Rex is one thatwhen watched, the viewer knows that they are watching a performance. Costumes convey information about the character and aid in setting the tone ormood of the production. Because most acting involves impersonation, mostcostumes are essential to re-create historical or to the period in which the productiontakes place. Costumes like that of William Shakespeare’s Othello maybe abstract,ever-changing, like it’s setting. When using the costume design of the latest filmversion of Othello, he is usually seen in a toga-like uniform which may have stemmedfrom his moor background.
Since costume elements were formalized in classicalGreek theater, the costumes would be that of everyday dress with slight additions ofcolour, designs, all of which created a larger meaning in the context of the play. Theadditions on the toga also contributed to accentuating the setting , which in Oedipus’case was Thebes. His toga could have been coloured like the sand and have anornament like a Sphinx tooth, signifying his bravery for killing the beast. In the caseof Othello his toga-like uniform, may have had a general’s insignia on the shoulders,and much like in the film, the scars and tattoos showing the suffering he has gonethrough.
On the issue of verisimilitude, actors in Oedipus Rex would be required towear a mask bearing an expression that would stay throughout the place, making thecharacter’s seem flat and general. Oedipus is a round character, but because of themask, he has a one dimensional projection to the audience. The costumes worn in6Othello would be that of clothing of that time. This is common in both plays, but theabsence of the mask in Othello, meant that the actor provided their own expressions.
Thus, the costumes worn in both plays would be life-like to the audience, but the useof the mask in classical Greece robbed the viewer of a three dimensional projectionand withheld the expressions, by the actor. When an actor acts, they impersonate to believably re-create a historical orfictional character. The character’s of Oedipus and Othello are developed into roundcharacters. Round characters are those that are well developed three dimensionallywith multiple meaning to their characters. Oedipus is a character who’s fate cannotbe avoided, and which ever path he seems to take leads him to more trouble thanwhat he had to deal with before.
Even though his character is well-rounded, he isnot believable. It would be highly unlikely that Oedipus would marry a woman wholooked as if she could be his mother without asking a few questions about her