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  • Writer's pictureJason Haskins

Escaping the heat of July and moving into a scorching August

A journey across a handful of western states at the end of July/first of August brought me to the Utah Shakespeare Festival, where I saw a performance of Othello at the Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre.

The show did not disappoint.

Othello is near the top of the list for me as far as plays by William Shakespeare go, but one I had not yet seen performed. Unless you count the Mekhi Phifer, Julia Stiles, and Josh Hartnett version O from back in 2001, you know, when adapting Shakespeare into teen-oriented movies was at the height of its popularity.

The production I saw at the Utah Shakespeare Festival was a tour de force, light blue lighting flooding the stage, often mixed in with various reds and yellows, surrounding by a continual touch of smoke throughout the 2.5 hour play. The thrust stage allowed for excellent vantage points and even used multiple entrances and exits from the aisles in the audience to add to the flavor of the play.

Under the direction of Kate Buckley, it was the performances that really stole the show, namely the four leads: Wayne T. Carr (Othello), Brian Vaughn (Iago), Betsy Mugavero (Desdemona), and Katie Cunningham (Emilia).

Being on stage for the majority of the play, the character of Iago is tasked with drawing the audience in to the plans, schemes, backstabbing, and more. Vaughn's performance did exactly that, dancing between conniving and backstabbing all while putting on an air of loyalty to the face of Othello and so many others.

Carr's Othello was vulnerable and strong, caring and jealous, bringing many in the audience to tears when he arrives at the realization of exactly what he has done in (spoiler) murdering the love of his life.

There also must be something said about what a well-done production can do for one's own motivation and expectations. Exiting the theater that night, I felt not only was I in the right place, but I also wanted to do what I can to continue to contribute to the theater world in the Treasure Valley (and one day, beyond).

Writing updates and more

There were delays, starts and stops, a beginning that changed more than once, and a few years, but the first draft of my newest full-length play, Half Past Midnight, was completed in the middle of July. Next on the agenda is a re-write and a reading (private or public), but not necessarily in that order.

Also been busy prepping for the upcoming series for Alley Repertory Theater. An announcement of what plays we will be doing is coming soon so keep an eye out for that.

I've also been able to write a few pages to The Dragon Slayer, the second book in the Magic of Crieo series. The first book in this series, The Blue Gem, and the book that preceded that, The Dragon Princess, are both available via Kindle Direct Publishing.

College football is now upon us so it will be back to writing for Bronco Nation News. And with the Red Sox in the throes of one of their best seasons in recent memory (plus Boston College football), I will be busy creating content over at Chowder and Champions.

Coming up here on August 13, a ten-minute play I wrote titled The E-6 Debacle will be part of Opal Theatre Company's 10X10 play festival. The readings will take place on 8/13 at 6:30 pm at White Dog Brewing in Boise.

To do in the Treasure Valley in August

Along with the festival on the 13th, there is plenty to do around the valley.

- Homegrown Theatre is producing Sing to Me Now by Iris Dauterman, opening August 10.

- The Visual Arts Collective in Garden City has a handful of shows, including Treepeople with Dirt Fisherman and Ipper on August 18 at 8 pm. This concert is a benefit for Buffalo Field Campaign.

These are a few examples of the great art, theater, and music happening around the community.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Be bold. Be kind.

To stay up-to-date with Jason's happenings, plus thoughts on sports, movies, pop culture, and more, be sure to follow him on Twitter: @jasonrh_78

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