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Otelo, Intercultural Spectatorship, and Ocular Proof

From: Asian Theatre Journal
Volume 28, Number 1, Spring 2011
pp. 129-148 | 10.1353/atj.2011.0018



Is intercultural Shakespeare always apprehended at first sight? This essay explores the related notions of spectacle and spectatorship in intercultural/Asian Shakespeare and argues for an understanding of interculturality beyond presentational spectacle or obviously visible relocation. Ricardo Abad's production of Othello (Otelo, Ang Moro ng Venecia, Tanghalang Ateneo 2008) challenges conventional notions of a play's location by deliberately obscuring visual cues of cultural specificity. Instead, it locates the play within the aesthetics of the Philippine komedya and allows for the emergence of a culturally disposed vision of the play in which the fact of its interculturality emerges not from the visually represented onstage locus but from the audience's habitus or a cultural subjectivity that shapes its reception. Otelo underscores the vital role of spectatorship as an element in the production of the intercultural and makes a case for the idea that interculturalism is only created or completed by audience response.

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