The Folger Shakespeare Library and our publishing partner, Simon & Schuster Audio, hope you enjoy these excerpts from our audio performance of Shakespeare’s Othello. This production was performed by the professional actors of Folger Theatre, in consultation with the editors of The Folger Shakespeare. The Folger Shakespeare Othello audiobook is available on a wide variety of audiobook platforms.
Act 1, scene 1
In the streets of Venice, Iago tells Roderigo of his hatred for Othello, who has given Cassio the lieutenancy that Iago wanted and has made Iago a mere ensign. At Iago’s suggestion, he and Roderigo, a former suitor to Desdemona, awake Desdemona’s father to tell him that Desdemona has eloped with Othello. This news enrages Brabantio, who organizes an armed band to search out Othello.
Act 3, scene 3
Desdemona’s interview with Cassio is cut short by the arrival of Othello. Cassio leaves hastily in order to avoid speaking with Othello. Desdemona pleads to Othello on Cassio’s behalf. When she exits, Iago says that Cassio’s avoidance of Othello is suspicious and that Cassio may not be honorable, all the while insinuating that he, Iago, knows more than he is willing to say. He warns Othello against becoming jealous of Desdemona. When Desdemona enters and Othello complains of an aching head, Desdemona offers to bind his head with her handkerchief. As they exit, the handkerchief drops unnoticed by either of them. Emilia picks it up and gives it to Iago, who has often asked for it. Othello reenters and, now tormented by jealousy, threatens Iago with death unless he provides proof of Desdemona’s infidelity. Iago alleges that Cassio one night talked in his sleep about making love to Desdemona and that Cassio once wiped his beard with the lost handkerchief. Othello is convinced by this “proof” and vows to kill Desdemona; Iago agrees to kill Cassio. Othello then appoints Iago to the lieutenancy.
Act 3, scene 4
Desdemona, still actively seeking to have Cassio reinstated, is worried about the loss of her handkerchief. Her anxiety about it increases when Othello asks her for it and then sternly rebukes her when she cannot produce it. Cassio approaches her, but she must now, because of Othello’s anger, postpone her efforts on his behalf. As he waits, Bianca, his lover, appears. Cassio has found Desdemona’s handkerchief in his room (placed there by Iago) and he asks Bianca to copy the embroidery work for him.
Iago—Ian Merrill Peakes
Other parts were played by members of the cast.
Katharine Pitt—Production Assistant
Matthew M. Nielson and Sound Lab Studios—Sound Design
Charlie Pilzer and Airshow Mastering—Recording
Jessica Witchger—Musician for introduction and closing music
Michael Witmore—Director, Folger Shakespeare Library
Janet Alexander Griffin—Artistic Producer
Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine—Editors, Folger Editions
In partnership with Simon & Schuster Audio