Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

Othello offers drama in Brunner Theatre

Starting this Friday, October 14th, Augustana College’s Theatre Arts Department will present Othello, a Shakespearian tragedy.

To the cast this is extremely exciting because “Othello is the first main-stage show of the season, and the first main-stage show to premiere in the brand new Brunner Theatre Center,” says Katie Kleve, an Augustana first-year who plays one of the leading roles.

When asked about the upcoming production, Director Jeff Coussens said, “Othello would be a challenging, ambitious show for us to produce in any venue, but the Brunner Main Stage presents some very exciting possibilities that haven’t been available to us in previous seasons.”

Debo Balogun, the title character in the production, had his own thoughts when remarking about the transition from Potter Theatre to the Brunner Theatre Center.  “It’s kind of like stepping into a new relationship – exhilarating but also nerve-wracking. I think everyone in the theatre department can agree to that sentiment. Because it really is a relationship, I think – a relationship with the space,” he said.

“You gotta figure out what works and what doesn’t. We’re dealing with new equipment, a new stage-house configuration, and new additions to our typical season structure. So there’s a bit of a learning curve. And you can feel it whether you’re an actor, designer, director, or crew member. Brunner gives us opportunities we wouldn’t have had in Potter, so our challenge now is learning how to efficiently capitalize on that opportunity,” Balogun said.

Coussens added that “We are able to accommodate both a larger cast and audience, yet the thrust stage maintains the sense of intimacy that makes for a powerful performance”.

Coussens believes that Othello is one of Shakespeare’s most exciting and thrilling dramas and states that “Conceptually we have placed the action of Othello in a contemporary setting in order to make its already relevant story resonate even more with audiences of today.”

Kleve agreed, and believes that Othello’s modern setting “is relevant to the current political atmosphere, expounding on the consequences of prejudice, paranoia and the desire for revenge.”

In the Theatre Department’s adaption of the classic Shakespearian play, “Othello is a general in the U.S. Military. After eloping with Desdemona, Othello and his troops are sent to Baghdad’s Green Zone. However, unbeknownst to Othello, his ensign, Iago, is plotting to exact a gruesome revenge plot against him.”

Balogun said, “What I most hope the audience will take away from the show, especially with our interpretation taking place in contemporary times, is how difficult it is to succeed as a black man in our present culture. Othello is a man who started from nothing and had to climb the ranks until he became successful as a general”.

The performances of the show are open to the public and will be presented in the Brunner Main Stage Theatre, Brunner Theatre Center, October 14-15 and 21-22 at 7:30pm and October 16 and 23 at 1:30pm. 

Tickets are $11 for the general public, $9 for senior citizens, students, and Augustana faculty/staff, and $5 for children ages 12 and under.

Tickets can be purchased through the Augustana  Ticket Office or by visiting

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Othello offers drama in Brunner Theatre