STAGECRAFT: Hayat Kamille in rehearsals for her role as Bianca in Othello
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By Asjad Nazir.

Ode to Othello.

THE English Touring Theatre company’s revival of Richard Twyman’s critically acclaimed production of Othello has been delighting audiences around the country.

The powerful production of William Shakespeare’s classic of a newly married general being
manipulated by a man he trusts has lost none of its charm and sees versatile actress Hayat
Kamille returning in the role of Bianca. I caught up with Hayat to talk about acting, being in Othello again and more.

What first connected you to acting?
When I was in year six of primary school, I auditioned for the school play at Christmas. We all queued up to sing for the lead role of Red and that’s where I quickly discovered I definitely couldn’t sing. They gave me the sassy, smaller (non-singing) role of Chanel instead. I was 10 years old and so incredibly nervous that I think I forgot all of my three lines.

How does it feel like being in Othello again?
It’s so wonderful to have been invited back. I am one of four returning cast members, and it feels like being reunited with family. Meeting all the new cast members has been really lovely as I know they will soon be family too.

It’s been fascinating going through the process again, learning more via Shakespearean text, and witnessing all of the magic and uniqueness that everyone brings to their individual roles and together as a cast.

Have you approached the character differently this time?
Yes, in a way. I’m already very familiar with Bianca so I’m excited to further explore her characteristics and vulnerability in particular, as I feel it’s a big part of her strength. Having the time to rehearse again is such a privilege and I’m hoping to find some more nuanced moments. We have a new Cassio on board, played by the wonderful Philip Correia, so that will, for sure, change the performance and allow for new character and scene discoveries.

Tell us about the production this time around?
Lots of blood (spoiler alert)! You will have to come along to find out more as I don’t want to ruin it for you. But I will go so far as to say it’s not going to be like any production of Othello that you’ve seen before.

Why do you think Othello has such a lasting appeal with audiences?
Unfortunately, racism and misogyny have been, and still are, hugely present in society. The idea of the ‘other’ is very much a predominant issue, especially with our current global refugee crisis, which is utterly heartbreaking. It’s fascinating that a centuries-old play can still resonate and be relevant today. I hope we can learn from it and be kinder and more accepting of one another.

A scene from the play

Tell us more.
Shakespeare had such a grasp on portraying emotion through his vivid vocabulary and phrases, so much so that we’re still using some of them today, and they apply to our lives in many ways. And jealousy, love and betrayal are human themes that seem to withstand the test of time. We all want to be loved, and that is what I believe every character in the play wants too.

Which is your favourite moment in the play?
That’s tough as I have many favourite moments. But I really enjoy Richard’s version of the famous willow scene between Emilia and Desdemona.

What would be your dream role?
I would love a recurring role in a comedy series, as it would be awesome to have a job where you get to laugh every day. Or a character-driven role in a TV series or movie. It would be so interesting to play someone who requires a great deal of physical transformation. But ultimately I would love a role that would enable me to have enough
of a platform to help others.

Which is your most memorable moment as a performer?
I was once in a promenade show where I had to wear a headscarf. I was holding a tray
of tea lights and as I leaned forward, the scarf was set alight by the candle. My scene was about to start and the venue was heaving. I saw fire on my chest and an audience member (who luckily happened to be a friend of mine) leapt up and patted it out. Then the gong that cued the beginning of the scene went off and the scene began.

And what about as an audience member?
I once queued up for five hours from 4am outside the National Theatre with my best friend to get tickets for Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller – they were alternating roles and we saw Cumberbatch as Frankenstein. Both he and Miller were incredible. We got front row seats and it was so visceral. Their performances were outstanding and when it finished we burst into tears and jumped up for a standing ovation. Funnily enough, both these moments took place the same year.

Why do you love the craft of acting?
I love it for many reasons. It’s such a unique way of exploring people from all walks of life, and to have the ability to tell stories of people who may not be fortunate enough to tell their own. It’s very freeing to be uninhabited within your mind and body, and to explore someone else for a day, week, month, or a year (if you’re on a long enough contract). You also get to learn so much through the research process – from an audition to rehearsals, you don’t stop learning.

I’ve also found that acting can help overcome a lot of personal obstacles.

What do you mean?
Like issues with confidence, which can be really fulfilling. I never thought I would be in a Shakespeare play as I was always really scared of it. I couldn’t understand it, let alone perform it and now that I’ve done one, I would love to do more. I do also really love the community feeling of theatre and the effect it can have on you as an audience member. I’ve personally been so affected by some of the shows I’ve seen and they make huge impressions on your life. I hope to be able to move at least one person like that one day.

  • The English Touring Theatre’s critically acclaimed revival of Othello tours the UK until November 24. Visit www.ett.org.uk for details.

 

SUSHANT SINGH’S WOES

Sushant Singh Rajput

EARLIER this year, I wrote about how Sushant Singh Rajput is perhaps the unluckiest
actor in Bollywood because his projects like Paani and Chandna Mama Door Se got shelved despite him devoting so much time to them. He has also turned down films that became  blockbusters and stars in forthcoming romantic drama Kedernath, which has had legal troubles. His run of bad luck continued after Mukesh Chhabra, the director of his forthcoming film Kizzie Aur Manny, was suspended after allegations of sexual misconduct emerged against him, putting the future of the film in jeopardy.

NOROUZI IN THE NEWS

IRANIAN actress Elnaaz Norouzi has accused director Vipul Amrutlal Shah of sexual misconduct, and he had yet to deny them at time of going to press.

The disgusting behaviour, if true, occurred while the Sacred Games actress was auditioning for his film Namaste England. Norouzi said she didn’t take the matter to the police
because as a foreigner, she didn’t know enough about her rights and left it to karma.

Well, karma did strike because Namaste England received terrible reviews including zero stars from India’s leading critic Rajeev Masand and crashed at the box office.

ANU MALIK UNDER FIRE

THE recent Me Too movement in India has led to a number of women coming forward to level accusations of sexual misconduct at Anu Malik, including singer Shweta Pandit, who said she was only 15 when he allegedly harassed her.

This led to Indian Idol producers firing him as a judge, but I don’t think that is enough and they should get the police to investigate his alleged abuse.

Although the music director has denied the allegations, I believe the women and was told about his abhorrent behaviour over a decade ago by a famous singer. That is why I have
never interviewed him and now hope other media will also blacklist him.

ROHINI: CHANGING BOLLYWOOD

THE rise of girl power in Indian cinema was perfectly illustrated with the recent launch of new book Changemakers: 20 Women Transforming Bollywood Behind The Scenes in Mumbai.

Although the book features 20 amazing women from diverse fields like path-breaking make-up artist Charu Khurana, stuntwoman Geeta Tandon and filmmaker Gauri Shinde, for me the one who stands out is Rohini Iyer. Apart from setting up formidable company Raindrop Media, establishing herself as a force in Bollywood and masterminding the marketing strategies of countless blockbusters, she has also empowered other women, from the A-list stars she looks after including Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif and Sonam Kapoor to hiring an all-female staff. I am really looking forward to the day she writes a standalone book about herself.

NAMASTE AND GOODBYE?

Namaste England

THE disastrous response to recently released Bollywood romance Namaste England has badly damaged forthcoming film Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar because it features the same lead stars Parineeti Chopra and Arjun Kapoor. It will be difficult for producers of the comedy-drama to get a wide release and industry pundits predict that it is doomed.

SANJAY: NO PAGE TURNER

ALTHOUGH history is a major passion of mine, I have zero interest in Sanjay  Khan’s recently launched autobiography The Best Mistakes Of My Life (left). The former actor and filmmaker is infamous for allegedly beating up his then girlfriend Zeenat Aman when she was at the height of her fame. I will always see him as Feroz Khan’s less talented brother, who reportedly assaulted a woman and I don’t need to read his book.