iShakespeare: ACU Theatre presents Othello with an innovative twist

Posted June 10, 2010

ACU's Department of Theatre is connecting to its audience in a whole new way. When the Abilene Shakespeare Festival opens on June 24, audience members are invited to bring along their iPhones for a totally innovative theatre experience.Othello stage

"Twenty years ago, the Abilene Shakespeare Festival began with its first performance of Othello. On our 20th anniversary, I thought, why not take a fully new approach to that play?" says Adam Hester, chair of ACU's Department of Theatre.

Instead of having large sets built, the stage will feature eight 50-inch television screens, each displaying images to set the scene. While the script will use Shakespeare's original text, the play will be set in modern times, with plenty of onstage use of cutting-edge technology.

"For audience members who have just come to see the play, we want this show to have a very modern, innovative look," says Hester. "It will be a thoroughly contemporary version of Othello, and look as current as any music video or YouTube sensation."iPhone theatre

For some audience members, the technological aspect of the show goes even further. Attendees with iPhones can elect to be seated in the rear two or three rows. They can participate in pre-show Shakespeare trivia, receive messages throughout the performance to clarify difficult Shakespearean words and give brief synopses of scenes, and interact with the cast and crew in post-show talkbacks.

"We want the audience to feel very connected," says Hester.

Even with all these technological bonuses, admission to the Abilene Shakespeare Festival is free. As it has been since 1990, the show's budget is underwritten by grants from the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, Women for ACU, and ACU's Department of Theatre. Othello shows June 24-26 and July 1-3 in ACU's Fulks Theatre in the Williams Performing Art Center.

Learn more about the Abilene Shakespeare Festival here.


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