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Deconstructing the Saussurean System of Signification

Miyagi Satoshi and His Mimetic Dramaturgy in Miyagi-Noh Othello

Tomoka Tsukamoto and Ted Motohashi

Abstract

Shakespeare's Othello has been staged overwhelmingly through the racial relationship between the two protagonists, Othello and Iago, at the expense of another protagonist, Desdemona, partly because of the prominence of racial and military perspectives in European modernity, and partly because of the relatively scarce textual presence of Desdemona. Despite the tremendous efforts and contributions of feminist criticism to rectify the imbalance, this female protagonist has been enclosed in the realm of a patriarchal framework that divides women between ‘chaste wife’ and ‘villainous whore’. Miyagi Satoshi's adaptation and staging of Miyagi-Noh Othello, presented at Shizuoka Arts Theatre in 2018, was a remarkable attempt to address this issue, by transforming the whole play into a memory recollected and enacted by the Ghost of Desdemona, through utilising the Japanese ‘Mugen-Noh’ format. Through his mimetic dramaturgy employing the ‘division of speech and movement’ method, Miyagi succeeded in recovering not only Desdemona's testimonies regarding her affectionate and passionate relationship with Othello but also multiple women's ‘her-stories’ hidden and disregarded by male-centred histories authorised by the Venetian ruling class. The detailed analysis of Miyagi's unique and innovative production will unravel the complicated relationship between actors’ words and their bodies in theatrical productions, as well as offer a fresh insight into the hitherto underrated aspect of Othello as an alternative story of inducing everyone's suffering into spiritual atonement by reviving the love which has always already been present even in a society torn by racism, genderism and militarism.