David Oyelowo and Daniel Craig — two of the most renowned British actors currently working — are going to be doing Othello together in the intimate, 199-seat New York Theatre Workshop (where The Man Who Fell to Earth adaptation, Lazarus, will premiere in November).Oyelowo will be playing the title role, while Craig will be his conniving frenemy, Iago, who, over the course of the play, soliloquizes his plot for Othello’s demise.
The production is being helmed by Fun Home director Sam Gold, who the New York Times notes has risen to prominence as a director of new works, and who’ll be directing Shakespeare professionally for the first time.
This news comes after Daniel Craig had expressed an interest in continuing to act on New York stages (as he most recently did in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, alongside Rachel Weisz), while saying he no longer wanted to do Broadway shows due to the overwhelmingly rich, elderly audiences. “The audience is all over 50, on the whole, and I think new faces and cheaper tickets are the only way forward,” he’d said. The cast came together when Craig sought Gold out for collaboration, and Gold later contacted Oyelowo through a mutual friend. (Oyelowo was no stranger to Shakespeare, having played Henry VI at the Royal Shakespeare Company — and becoming the first black actor to play a Shakespearean king for the company — when he was just 24).
Gold noted that this was the perfect play for a first-time director of Shakespeare, due to its being a “focused,” “single-plot show.” But Shakespeare isn’t just new for Gold: NYTW hasn’t hosted a Shakespeare production since 1990. It seems the theatre company — one of whose key goals is to foster the talents of directors — is likewise looking forward to looking backward. The artistic director, James C. Nicola, told the Times, “For three years [they] have had an ongoing conversation about what [the company] and Sam could do together that would be a challenge to him to grow and build muscle and capacity as a director” — and they found it in Othello.
The production will see a limited run in Fall, 2016.