Othello (1982): Northcott Theatre, Exeter
PRINCIPAL CAST: Thomas Baptiste (Othello); Kate Buffery (Emilia); Mike Burnside (Iago); Amanda Orton (Desdemona); John Peters (Cassio).
The first performance of this production took place on 27 April 1982. This production was part of the Northcott Theatre, Exeter's repertory season which ran from 27 April - 17 June 1982. The season also included a production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Hamlet and The Recruiting Officer, directed by Nicholas Hytner. As Stewart Trotter explained in the programme: "But why a repertory system? Well, there is no denying its excitement for actors which I hope will communicate to the public. We have a 'permanent' company of seventeen actors for the season: and each actor has agreen to undertake two main parts and two supports. This means you will see Thomas Baptiste as Othello one night - then as the coalman the next! It also means that we will have the highest standard of playing in even the smallest parts."
"Othello which is running at the Northcott Theatre until July 24, has the distinction of possessing a naturally coloured actor to play the Moor, surely the first time since Paul Robeson essayed the role in a major production in the thirties. Thomas Baptiste, with his deep and resonant voice, reveals from the opening speeches the inborn dignity which still holds firm when confronted by his white Venetian superior and his defence against his marriage to Desdemona. This majestic portrayal contrasted sharply with the inevitable fall of a great soldier which came with his poignant speech 'Farewell the tranquil mind'. Mike Burnside's Iago ignored the fawning hypocrisy of some traditional performances and made the character that of a persuasive con man, robust and fast talking, whose sycophancy to his master did nothing to hide his hatred and smouldering ambition in search of revenge and power. Amanda Orton, eloquent, assured and demurely subservient to her husband, appeared as Desdemona..." ~ Harvey Crane, "Exeter: Othello", The Stage, 27 May 1982, p. 15.