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Another Audition Monologue, part the third

The Second Side of Brabantio:

O thou foul thief, where hast thou stow’d my daughter? Damn’d as thou art, thou hast enchanted her; For I’ll refer me to all things of sense, if she in chains of magic were not bound, whether a maid so tender, fair and happy, so opposite to marriage that she shunned the wealthy curled darlings of our nation, would ever have to incur a general mock, run from her guardage to the sooty bosom of such a thing as thou, to fear not to delight. Judge me the world, if ’tis not gross in sense that thou hast practiced on her with foul charms, abused her delicate youth with drugs or minerals that weaken motion: I’ll have’t disputed on; ’tis probable and palpable to thinking. I therefore apprehend and do attach thee for an abuser of the world, a practiser of arts inhibited and out of warrant. Lay hold upon him: if he do resist, subdue him at his peril.

This is a much simpler bit: it is all directly to Othello—well, I say that, but it is all a public utterance directed to Othello but largely performed for the others. Brabantio isn’t so much looking for any specific response from Othello, but a response from the people he has brought with him, as well as Othello’s men. It appears to be written as a crowd scene—Othello begins the scene with Iago and other attendants and is joined by Cassio and some other officers, and then is met by a “troop” of officers led by Brabantio and Roderigo. They draw on both sides and we are poised for a pitched battle, when Othello says Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them. Lovely.

Digression: Have I ever mentioned my Willie Mays in Spring Training story? I guess I haven’t. It was just after they lifted the ban, so I was 16, I suppose, and while he hadn’t actually been banned that long, it seemed like he had been absent for quite a while. Anyway, he was some sort of special instructor for the Giants—his job was to hang around and be Willie Mays, you know? Anyway, they’re playing a spring training game and some guy is sliding into second with his spikes up, and what with one thing and another, there is a rhubarb that turns into a ruckus, the benches empty. Pushing, shoving—all of this during spring training, right? So there’s, like, forty guys on each bench to begin with. Anyway, there’s this massive scrum on the field around second base, and then suddenly it just… stops. Everybody seems to stop all at once, and there, just off the bag at second, is Willie Mays, just standing there, with those enormous palms out and down. And everybody backs away, kinda sheepish-like, and goes back to where they were. That’s how I would stage this scene, if I had the money and the space. End Digression.

Well, and Brabantio is speaking to Othello, but in fact trying to rile up the crowd for a lynching. The problem, then, for an audition monologue is that I don’t have a crowd to rile up—or, perhaps better, to fail to rile up. I will have nothing to play back against. It being a much simpler bit means that if I want to show off my skills using it, I have to think a little harder.

What I am concentrating on, with this one, is the pitch and volume build-ups: we start up the ladder with the reasonably phrased thou hast enchanted her, up to all things of sense, up to chains of magic. A breath and down to the bottom with a quiet maid so tender, going only small half-steps up to shunned, darlings and our. Slide the pitch all the way down during would ever have and hold that pitch but bring the volume up until mock before a quick scale up to thou, and then either keep the pitch at the level or go slowly down low again (I’ll have to hear myself on it a few times) on fear and delight. Start again, but keep it slow and at a medium volume: judge me the world up to gross in sense, up half a step to practiced on her, another half to abused… my instinct is to break it, there. When it comes to actually explaining the details, he’s got nothing. So: drugs, orrrrrrrrr, minerals that weaken motion? Then he gets himself back together, down in pitch to begin the last rhythmic, emphatic trip up the ladder: disputed, probable, palpableapprehend, attach, abuserpracticer, inhibited, out of warrant. And then at the top: Lay hold!

That is, let’s see: five climbs? That’s a lot. Two of them are half-ladders, though, and there are two quick ones and one slow one. Hm. I’ll have to record this and see how it sounds. More later.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


You clearly have a workable way to play this speech, but I would throw out the idea that in this speech, as you found in the other one you are preparing, Brabantio may be arguing with, persuading himself inwardly as well as attending with rhetorical skill to his outward audience. As much as he is concerned with apprehending Othello, he is distracted by his own inward torment, his inner raging with Desdemona for her disobedience to him and what that betrayal of him means about their relationship. If you look at his speeches in the first scene, they manifest this kind of turmoil directly and also introduce the "charms" idea, so it isn't a spur-of-the-moment idea. Rather, it is the one that he been turning over in his mind since he left his house, the one he is hoping for, in a way, because it is only if Desdemona was taken against her will that she hasn't, as he feels it, betrayed him, and that's the pain that is killing him. He is trying to persuade himself that this apparently far-fetched claim of enchantment must be the explanation, because the alternatives are too painful to accept. Movement between inward and outward focus could add another dynamic to the speech.

He certainly comes up with the idea of enchantment in his first scene—I don't mean to suggest that he is, at the moment of drugs or minerals, coming up with it. What I mean is that he has no specific knowledge or even imagination about how that might have worked in practice. He knows, in the back of his mind, that at some point he will need something that's like evidence, but at the moment, all he has is well, look at him! So when he inadvertently gets into specifics, he very quickly finds himself out of his depth, and panics for a moment before hurrying on. Or, at any rate, I think that's a reasonable way to play it, at least for the monologue version.

Your point about inward and outward is excellent. I'm not sure how to make it practical, though—this requires thought.


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