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Othello: A1S3 Put money in thy purse

At the moment  (11th March ’17), we’re busy preparing Othello for a play-reading. That means that we’ll update the play script for the play-reading; create a few videos for the “Let’s Explore” and “Let’s Play” sections, and we’ll publish the new version of the play, with the additions towards the end of March.

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This is the first of the videos which go with the play. It’s one of my favourite speeches of Iago. Of course it’s not so important or dramatic as the scenes with Othello when Iago subtly stimulates Othello’s jealousy and then leads him to murder Desdemona, but it has its own charm and difficulties. There are two main difficulties for the actor are:

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  • In the speech Iago says ‘Put money in thy pocket”, or some variation of that eight times. The trick is to find different ways to say it, and to make sure that they build up so as to persuade Roderigo that there  better things to do than drown himself.
  • The second difficulty is that the scene occurs early in the play (A1S3) and is the first opportunity for the player playing Iago to show just how devious Iago can be. He has to appear to Roderigo as if he is is friend – indeed he claims to be a firm friend in the speech –  whilst making it clear to the audience that he is persuading Roderigo not to do what is in Roderigo’s interest, but what suits Iago best.

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I’ve loved the speech since I first got to know the play, particularly the repetitions of ‘Put money in thy purse’, and so I thought I’d try and explore the speech myself. I don’t suppose the result will have Kenneth Branagh quaking in his boots, but I had enormous fun trying to get it right. Play the video by clicking on the arrow in the video below to see what you think.

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So now you’ve heard that speech,  did you notice the deliberate mistake – there’s five bonus points to anyone who does spot it. But what about the interpretation? You probably think you can do better than that. Why don’t you try it out?

  • Click on the following link to go to the Othello script, A1S3, Iago: Link to Othello Script
  • Scroll down in the script until you come to Iago’s speech which starts:
  • “It is merely a Lust of the blood”
  • Read the speech out loud, starting at: “Drown thyself? Drown Cats and blind Puppies.”

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If you’ve enjoyed that there’s some other things you can do:

  • You can see all the videos we’ve published like that by clicking on this link: “Let’s Explore” Videos
  • You can explore other plays where the “Let’s Explore” and “Let’s Play” sections are complete. Click on one of the following links, and then look for the “Let’s Explore” and “Let’s Play” sections in the index to the right of the script::

We’ll be adding more plays as they become available (Othello by the end of March)

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Let’s play!

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Richard Forsyth
‘The Director’
Players-Shakespeare.com

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One Response to "Othello: A1S3 Put money in thy purse"

  • Richard Forsyth
    March 15, 2017 - 10:11 pm Reply

    I hhave been having a conversation on the Shakespeare Society, about the possibility of other people creating recordings of the same speeches and publishing them on this web-site. During that conversation Seeyam came up with the following about Iago’s scene which I thought worth sharing:

    Seeyam Brijmohun:
    Iago has a mastery of control over others, through what he doesn’t say, he engineers his opponents direction of thoughts. His dialogue with Othello discussing Desdemona’s infidelity is a prime example of this. The repetition on the subject of money is an attempt to convince Roderigo that Desdemona is a shallow woman who in the future can be enticed through wealth. Iago projects himself as a concerned friend with 47 years of experiential wisdom. The more a lie is repeated, the more believable it becomes.
    The scene begins with a light hearted approach by Iago who cracks a witty joke, whilst proclaiming a deep friendship with Roderigo. The delivery of the speech might be more effective if the repetition of money was very casual, as though it is beyond the necessity of debate. Within the scene there are the polars between humour (teasing ) and seriousness (concern ) for a friend, these two extremities assist Iago to take Roderigo thorough a yoyo of emotions. I would suggest that the the injection of the theme of money is spoken in a very neutral tone, almost hypnotic; Iago’s intention is not to encourage Roderigo to make money, his intention is to control Roderigo’s perception of Othello and Desdemona.

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