Divinity of Hell adapted directly from Shakespeare’s Othello:
Shakespeare wrote Othello some time between late 1601-1604 and Othello was probably written after Hamlet and before King Lear.*
The play opens with two inciting incidents: Iago gets passed over for the job of his life in public and Othello and Desdemona marry in secret.
Iago tells us in the play “Preferment goes by letter and affection, and not by old gradation” but, in 1570, how did Desdemona and Othello get away with marrying without parental consent? Historic changes to marriage laws occurred between 1545 and 1563 as part of The Council of Trent*. The Council redefined marriage as legal between two consenting adults. Desdemona, being the daughter of one of the most powerful men in Venice, Senator Brabantio’s daughter, would have known about this change in the law. Othello, being a military man, the renowned general, might not have been so aware of the politics. Desdemona and Othello, in love, want to marry but Desdemona’s father, had he known, would have vehemently denied the union. How then?
By the Church and the consenting adults. And it was done. The play begins. Iago bitter. Othello and Desdemona blissed.
Our presentation is stripped of the play’s specific landscape and any direct markers of time and place. “Light, I say! Light!”
The fragility and inconsistency of human relationships is a timeless theme.
The title of our version of Othello, Divinity of Hell, comes from Iago’s monologue in Act 11.3
“Divinity of Hell!
When devils will the blackest sins put on,
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,
As I do now.”
Our adapt is presented as a kind of morality tale offering a different opportunity than Iago’s, who’s intentions are to hurt, distroy, while he acts “honest” and “noble”. This ‘handkercheif’ version of the play is a dramatic heart-wrenching reminder to “Awake!”, to take care of what one cares about, really be noble and honest of heart and practice a touch of Grace. Ideally we see Divinity in the Hell and before it’s too late.
We all need a Desdemona in our lives. One that loves us more than we feel we deserve.
And having a “Desdemona”, call it a touch of Grace, in one’s life can be challenging and bring up hellish insecurities.
What is the inciting event? A perceived injustice (i.e. jealousy)? The loss of a handkerchief “trifles light as air”? Betraying one’s own truth? Loving someone…?
The definition of tragedy is the loss of innocent lives…”an event causing great suffering, destruction and distress”.
The genre of tragedy applies to stories dealing with the downfall of the main character(s) and having an unhappy ending versus
comedy/romance where the main character(s) get married in the end.
*The Arden Shakespeare Othello
*The Council of Trent “was one of the Roman Catholic Church’s most important ecumenical councils. In the decrees on marriage (twenty-fourth session) the excellence of the celibate state was reaffirmed, concubinage condemned and the validity of marriage made dependent upon the wedding taking place before a priest and two witnesses…“