UNO Theater presents: Desdemona


Desdemona, played by Rachel Morris, and Emilia, played by Emelie Lasseigne, having a heated argument on stage. Photo captured by Cassandra Jaskiewicz.

Cassandra Jaskiewicz

On Wednesday, Sept. 26, the UNO Theatre presented its opening performance ofDesdemona: A Play about a Handkerchief.” Many may be familiar with the Shakespearean classic “Othello,” but this version of the story dives deeper into the tragedy of Desdemona’s death and the circumstances that lead her there.

This play also highlights Desdemonas relationships with her servant Emilia, the wife of Iago, and her good friend Bianca, a prostitute, by combining the bawdy tales from Bianca and Desdemona, the playful banter between Desdemona and Emilia and antagonistic conversations between Bianca and Emilia. This demonstrates the intricacies of female friendship and female rivalries as well as the painfully strict roles that were enforced on women of the 1600s.

This play was directed by L. Kalo Gow, assistant professor for film and theater at UNO, with three students giving great performances. Desdemona was played by Rachel Morris, Emilia was played by Emelie Lasseigne, Bianca was played by Emily Bagwill and all of them are making their debuts on UNO’s stage.

There were only three characters in this play, making the connection between the actors very important. Every scene built on the relationships, motivations and beliefs, making Desdemona’s final night alive tragic in a new way. These actors worked hard to ensure believable relationships with each other, as well as with the audience.  

The play showed a unique interpretation in costume design. Desdemona’s pink hair was perfectly curled with a matching pink dress and heels to show off her free spirit and high status. Bianca had a gaudy purple outfit with glittery gold platform shoes to demonstrate her leisurely lifestyle and sexual nature. Emelia was dressed more conservatively and in accordance with the time period.

The stage was decorated with laundry hung in the rafters, across the floor and on projector screens displaying key images of the play; there were no set changes during the 95-minute show. While the projectors sometimes felt out-of-place, they emphasized the important components of each scene and the emotions that were meant to be conveyed.

However, the endings of scenes were indicated by dances between characters on stage. Sometimes these dances indicated relationships that were tense, friendly or superficial. While initially these dances felt out-of-place, as they would start without warning or explanation, by the end of the play, they felt more seamless and more meaningful.

“Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief” will continue till Oct. 6 and is free for UNO students and faculty, but $10 for UNO alumni and seniors, while general admission is $15. This show is definitely worth seeing and very accessible for UNO students.