Category Archives: Romeo and Juliet

Secondary Character Saturday: Anita (West Side Story)

So… Tomorrow night I’m going to go see Romeo and Juliet at the  Baltimore Shakespeare Factory and that got me thinking about West Side  Story. And THAT got me thinking about one of my favorite Secondary Characters… Anita.

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Who: Anita

From: West Side Story

West Side Story

West Side Story (Photo credit: thejcgerm)

By: Arthur Laurents, Stephen Sondheim,  and Leonard Bernstein

Produced: 1957 Broadway Premier / 1961 Film

Pros: feisty, spicy, self confident, beautiful, great dancer, great singer, realistic, loyal, great friend, gutsy,

Cons: A bit abrasive, assertive,  and hardly a saint.

Best Shining Moment: Singing AMERICA on the roof top. AND going into Jet territory to tell Tony to wait for Maria.

Least Shining Moment: When the Jets verbally, physically (and very nearly sexually) abuse her she lies to them (and thru them Tony) and tells them Maria is dead, setting up the tragic closing scenario. But that’s really on the Jets.

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Secondary Character Saturday — Iago

Illustration of Othello and Iago

Illustration of Othello and Iago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“…What’s he then that says I play the villain?” — Iago

Who: Iago

From: Othello

By: William Shakespeare

Written: Around 1603

Pros: Intelligent, ambitious, funny. Although he is the play’s worst character, he is also its most interesting and complex by far… you can’t take your eyes off the scum ball.

Cons: Manipulative, abusive, sociopathic, vengeful, bitter, jealous, petty. He’s a liar and bully that will literally commit murder to get what he wants.

English: Carl Schurz as Iago from Shakespeare'...

English: Carl Schurz as Iago from Shakespeare’s play Othello, amidst his co-conspirators, prepares to enter the limelight. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most Shining Moment: (Yeah, I’m leaving this one BLANK)

Least Shining Moment: So many to choose from. I’m going to go with killing his wife, Emilia. He’s treated her like dirt the entire play, and when she finally looses it and stands up to him he doesn’t think twice about running her through with a rapier.

Why I chose Iago: As you may have noticed most my Secondary Characters are pretty stand up guys. They all  have something going for them…maybe its charm… maybe they have good heart… but there is usually some nice feature that makes me like a character enough to give them the honored Saturday spot. Not so with Iago. Honestly I’m hard pressed to think of anything really nice to say about him. But…it is a really juicy role. He’s the one people remember. It is kind of the Darth Vader effect. You aren’t supposed to like him at all, but he’s the one whose theme song you remember.

English: Photographic full-length portrait of ...

English: Photographic full-length portrait of Edwin Booth as Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello, the Moor of Venice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is Iago a SECONDARY character: I often struggle with whether a character is indeed Secondary. And it is hard to make that case with Iago when he is on stage more than any other character in Othello.  (He has 1,070 lines.) Without his wicked machinations you’d have a very different/happier story so, unlike other Secondary Characters, he is pivotal to the plot. But, when it comes down to it, the play is called Othello, not Iago. So I’m giving the slimy little so-and-so the nod this week.

Othello (1995 film)

Othello (1995 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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I’m feeling very Shakespeare-y today. I had the good fortune to attend the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory‘s Bard’s Birthday Gala last night. We were treated to scenes from their upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet (April 6-27) as well as a 3 person / 20 minute version of Othello. It was a fabulous lesson in suspending disbelief as the actors literally transformed before your eyes from one character another, and it worked beautifully. With a handful of props, no set and no furniture these three actors told the this timeless story in an engaging, new way. Play on! Indeed!


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