Stripping Shakespeare – #1 Emilia’s Red Room of Pain, Othello

Date: 2014
Posted by: WMMoriginals
Cast: Sapna Gandhi (Emilia)
Credits: Directed by Ambika Leigh. Creator of Stripping Shakespeare: Nicol Razon
Duration: 2.44

So what’s this – fifty shades of Shakespeare? Emilia’s speech, ‘Yes, a dozen; and as many to the vantage as would’ from Othello, Act 4 Scene 3, is played out in some bondage setting, with a dominatrix speaking the words in taunting fashion to a hooded man, while another woman swings upside-down on a swing. Provocatively staged (but never greatly so), Emilia’s speech becomes a teasing taunt turned into practice, putting emphasis on the words “But I do think it is their husbands’ faults if wives do fall” – with this video’s scenario being the consequence.

This one of a series of ‘Stripping Shakespeare’ videos produced by an American filmmaking collective, We Make Movies, that brings together trained actors and erotic dancers. Series creator Nicol Razon states:

I wanted to create a series that was somewhere between Kubrick’s subconscious cinema and Reading Rainbow. Shakespeare has always been a love and stripping, always a temptation. Stripping Shakespeare will not only showcase the talents of classically trained actors, erotic dancers, and filmmakers, but also strip Shakespeare’s text down to its meaning enriching our understanding of poetry that is usually robbed of its naughty bits.

Others in the short series are Tongues, Tails & Teases: Kate & Petruchio, Taming Of The Shrew, Her Body’s Lust: Iago’s Dream, Othello (which makes use of archive film of Paul Robeson in The Emperor Jones) and An Unlessoned Girl: Portia, The Merchant of Venice. They bring Shakespeare into the world of fetish, pole dancing, striptease and burlesque, and what is most striking is how well they are done. The passages from the plays are cleverly chosen, with the words spoken by capable actors with lip-smacking relish. The videos are stylishly made, turning what might have only been a tacky joke into something witty at least and insightful at best.

It looks as though a longer series was originally planned, and one can only speculate why more have not been produced. Shakespeare can certainly supply the filmmakers with plenty of suitable material.

Links: YouTube page
Stripping Shakespeare channel
Stripping Shakespeare website
We Make Movies