Why Sephardic “Othello” is a Dream Come True

Press Forward 6.16.2016

Beginning on June 16, the actor David Serero will portray the title role in Shakespeare’s “Othello,” presented by the American Sephardi Federation at the Center for Jewish History. We invited Serero to discuss the challenges of playing Othello in this production, which will feature Jewish Moroccan music.

Othello is an actor’s dream role. I first encountered the part through the opera version by Verdi that I saw at the Metropolitan Opera in 2003. The story and the character fascinated me. When I look at how Iago can poison Othello with a lie and push him to murder, I can’t help but think of modern terrorism: it all starts with a lie, and perhaps jealousy.

For me Othello is superhuman. I love his rage. You can feel the blood boiling in his veins; he is a man given to excess in everything, whether in his anger or with his love. He is strong in his command but socially insecure. This is why he can’t have a conversation with Desdemona and can’t hear her explanations. The way I portray Othello is that I try to show how much he loves his wife Desdemona. He adores her, worships her. He must love her so much in order to kill her.