Famous touring company brings 'Othello' to campus next month

One of William Shakespeare’s most highly regarded tragedies will be staged Feb. 12 at Mississippi State as part of the university’s 2017-18 Lyceum Series.

Though composed in the early 17th century, “Othello” is a timeless examination of identity, institutional racism and deceit. To be performed in modern attire, the play is a production of the National Players, America’s longest-running tour company.

The curtain will rise at 7 p.m. in the Bettersworth Auditorium of historic Lee Hall.

General admission tickets are $25 each; $20 for Mississippi State employees and senior citizens; $10 for youth ages 3-12 in school uniform or with institutional identification. Enrolled university students are admitted free with MSU identification.

Online purchases may be made via http://events.msstate.edu.

The play’s intricate plot begins with the return to Italy of a North African-born commander praised both for military prowess and a good heart. Sadly, his foreign origin and dark skin generate hate from many in the supposedly civilized city, particularly since he is to marry Desdemona, a lovely -- and local -- beauty.

Among the haters and plotters is Othello’s most trusted servant, Iago -- a character whose very name has become synonymous with destructive villainy.

“What strikes me most about this play is how deeply intimate the story is, both in scale of characters and in its action,” said Jason King Jones, National Players’ artistic director.

“Yes,” he continued, “there are grand scenes, destructive storms and raucous parties, but the story centers around matters of the heart.”

Based at the Olney Theatre Center since 1953, the National Players are supported by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Maryland, along with the state’s education department and arts council. For more, visit www.nationalplayers.org.

Lyceum is among many programs of MSU’s Colvard Student Union. The annual performing arts series’ current season concludes March 7 with “TAO: Drum Heart,” an elaborate Japanese production combining highly physical, large-scale drumming with precise choreography and innovative visuals. For more, see www.drum-tao.com/main/english.

For additional Lyceum information, visit www.union.msstate.edu/student-activities/lyceum.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

Sammy McDavid | Public Affairs

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