'Othello' Starring A Martinez ('Longmire') Opens Next Week in Los Angeles

By Jon Sobel on Oct 17, 2014 11:35 AM EDT

The role of Othello requires an actor of gravitas, and Odyssey Theatre Ensemble and New American Theatre are betting A Martinez fits the bill. The actor's long career includes a great deal of television as well as film and theater. His TV roles have ranged from daytime soaps and TV movies to HBO's Grand Avenue, a Robert-Redford produced mini-series about Native American poverty in contemporary Northern California, and three seasons as Jacob Nighthorse in A&E's Longmire. Filmgoers have seen him in She-Devil with Meryl Streep and the iconic Native American odyssey Powwow Highway among others.

Martinez is well known to Los Angeles theatergoers too. He appeared in Athol Fugard's Blood Knot at the Malibu Playhouse last year, directed by Louis Gossett, and in Harold Pinter's The Homecoming and Luis Valdez's Bandido among other productions.

For his approach to Othello, in likely the most demanding role he has played on stage, Martinez cited the influence of method acting in an interview published on the Odyssey Theatre website: "I look at some of the performances that have been committed to film where actors have played Othello so vastly big and brilliantly but in a way that you never forget that you're watching someone onstage holding forth. There's a sense that it's an altered reality."

He went on: "If you're willing to start there, the more operatic parts that are required of you are easier to get to. When you start from the point of view that we're gonna do this tight and real and then you have to get so epically emotional, it's a longer journey you have to take, and it's a challenge."

Martinez also spoke of the challenge of Shakespeare's language. "I spent some time getting really invested in the scansion and the meter, seeing where that took me. I'm not a fan of singing it. When you see it done masterfully, it is both sung and legitimate. But you can easily drift into singing it before playing it legitimately if you're not really in command of yourself."

Director John Perrin Flynn has known Martinez since they worked together on Criminal Behavior in 1992, a TV movie that featured Farrah Fawcett. Martinez points to Flynn's "modern take" on Othello as referencing the situation of "an occupying power trying to control a place where they have resources that are deemed critical to the well-being of the empire."

Othello: ripped from the headlines?

Othello runs October 25 to December 14, 2014.

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TagsA Martinez, Othello, Shakespeare, Odyssey Theatre, New American Theatre, Longmire

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