Stadium Shakespeare

Thanks to Dubai Opera for having us for a week.

Michael Grady-Hall as Roderigo
Michael Grady-Hall as Roderigo

The extravaganza that is the Dubai Opera House is beautiful and huge. I mean huge! A real mammoth space to play. And we gave it a good old go.

I relished my chance to play Roderigo, I didn’t know just how sad he was till I got inside his far too white trainers.

I loved my time rehearsing over our two intense weeks. One of three complete newbies plus one returner from the previous version of the show. Mike Gould as Iago, is a sensation, it’s not possible to rehearse Iago in two weeks… unless you’re Mike Gould and then you can and do it with all the detail and genius of someone who’s spent 10 years on it. Molly Vevers was just heartbreaking as Desdemona, how was that your first classical play? And Katy Stephens, well, just the most fun to get to be in the same company as such a brilliant brilliant actor and company member. Hope revisiting Emilia was fun Katy.

Dubai Opera from the stage.
Dubai Opera from the stage.

Once in Dubai it was quite a start to the gig!

Having 1,600 teenagers in the audience on their school trip for our first preview will be an experience I won’t forget. The noise, the screams and laughing and cheering. Stadium Shakespeare! We had a good run of audiences but compared to that first evening, well, you grown ups are just so polite and boring. Who knew you could still find Shakespeare’s impenetrable comedy word play funny? Turns out 16 year olds studying English in Dubai can. When Othello returns having been presumed dead, the cheer when he hugged his wife reminds you what seeing these plays for the first time might have been like. And the silence in Desdemona’s killing!.. that’s right, you were culpable too, you enjoyed watching Iago get us there.

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa

Thanks for the hospitality of the hotel and the lovely company of actors that welcomed us three newbies in. And thanks ETT for letting me be Roderigo for a week.

It was great to have some sunshine and do a play but my most treasured experience will be: half the company (including me) running late and blazing through (read lost) the Dubai Mall (second largest in the world) and realising that it’s the quarter and we’ve just arrived back at the lift we got in ten minutes ago.

Hilarious.

Loved it.

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