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Shakespeare's Desdemona Gets Squared This Month

Shakespeare’s doomed heroine Desdemona is getting a lot of theater time this month. For fresh interpretations of the misunderstood Venetian beauty who met her untimely end at the hands of her husband, Othello, you can check out the high profile Toni Morrison-Peter Sellars collaboration or the black box experimental interpretation where Desdemona really is a whore.

Cal Performances presents the United States premiere of the collaboration between Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison, renowned director Peter Sellars, and one of Africa’s greatest vocalists Rokia Traoré. Together they create a beyond-the-grave conversation between Othello’s Desdemona and Barbary, the woman Shakespeare identifies as the African nurse who raised her.

Boxcar’s Desdemona is playwright Paula Vogel’s interpretation of what went down on Cyprus. What was really happening while Othello let his jealousy consume him? If Desdemona was inclined to stray, why? And how? Vogel’s Desdemona yearns for a better life with fewer restrictions. When a local prostitute shows up with tips, the two women whip up a whole lot of trouble.

Cal Performances: October 26-29. Zellerbach Playhouse, Bancroft and Dana on UC Berkeley’s campus. Tickets are $100 at calperfs.berkeley.edu.

Boxcar: Through November 2. 505 Natoma Street, San Francisco. Tickets are $15-26 at boxcartheatre.org.