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Othello & Tartuffe campaign images

Photos and conceptual art direction for Othello.

Photos and conceptual art direction for Othello.

I was asked to produce images for two upcoming shows of the Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory theatre company. Othello and Tartuffe are part of the same season by the same co-producing team, so the images needed to feel like they were of the same world, whilst reflecting individual elements of each show. Both needed to be classic, rich and sophisticated, whilst embracing the contemporary nature of the productions. The images had to be striking, stylish and simple with a human quality that would draw audiences in.

Director Richard Twyman discusses options with Abraham Popoola.

Director Richard Twyman discusses options with Abraham Popoola.

Othello is one of Shakespeare’s most startling contemporary plays and shows a life torn apart by racism and the destructive nature of prejudice. The director, Richard Twyman, highlights Othello’s Muslim identity in a unique way and was keen for this to come across in the image, which needed to communicate the overwhelming outside pressures on this man. Othello is both powerful and an outsider, a combination of greatness and weakness. To highlight this duality to Othello’s identity I proposed to use a double exposure effect. In the foreground Othello is strong and faces the camera head on, in the background he has his head in his hands, overwhelmed and weak.

Tartuffe by Dominic Power and Andrew Hilton after Molière is a comic satire about a credulous father who is duped into surrendering his family’s wealth – and very nearly his wife and daughter – to one of drama’s greatest conmen. The director Andrew Hilton was also keen to capture the conflicted duality of his character and suggested showing Tartuffe with a holy expression whilst communicating something lubricious, sexual and seedy. In line with the overall concept for the two production assets I shot two images and overlaid these, with the Tartuffe in the foreground looking holy and mild and the one behind him in control, commanding and corrupt.

Photos and conceptual art direction for Tartuffe.

Photos and conceptual art direction for Tartuffe.

The duality of both images highlight themes of the plays and link them together as part of the same season at Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory. Both show the characters as distinctly human and remain classic with a modern twist invoked by the colours and overlay.