Sunday, February 03, 2008

So who's the black sheep now?

Finally made my mind up about which wheel to get which means that I can now concentrate on work instead of trawling Ravelry for information about ratios, bobbins and jumbo flyers… it's like learning a new bloody language. But I am very excited and have ordered some books from Amazon about handspinning which means that until they arrive - I'll be trawling Ravelry for tips on yarn, twists and something called drafting - how am I going to meet my knitting targets for the year? There just aren't enough hours in the day I tell you….

To add to my excitement as I left work yesterday, I was meeting a friend to go watch Othello at the Donmar. In what was a pretty jammy week - I'd managed to get my mitts on some tickets without having to pay ridiculous prices on ebay and also won a bottle of wine at the office raffle. I probably should have bought some scratch cards whilst fortune was smiling on me but I digress… back to Othello, I'll write a critical review with my theatre studies student hat on later but here's my knitterly perspective first;

I have a theory that old Shakey was a bit of a fiber man as a lot of his plays are littered with references to knitting - think of this sonnet or Macbeth's line about conscience and rest. In Othello, his fascination with fiber (and who can blame him) is evident from Iago's first speech where he compares the spinster to….. Given that it was Ewan McGregor who was playing Iago, all I could think about was how fine a name he had and how it would be a great name for my first sheep. After that, it was impossible to ignore all the other animal motifs of inter-breeding and the perversity of a black ram (Othello) mating with a beautitful soft white ewe (Desdemona) -line 93. It didn't help that Chiwetel Ejifor who was a wonderful Othello had lovely little dreads that would make beautiful fluffy spun yarn. To say that I could imagine the characters as sheep in a field is not exactly far from the truth. Perhaps Shakey heard about some shenanigans amongst a shepherd's flock and was inspired to adapt it into this tragedy. Who knows? It is a well known fact that old Shakey wasn't exactly very original in his plotlines so maybe he blended in different strands of source material for the play. In any case, a black sheep amongst a herd of white sheep would definitely arouse the hostility and aggression of Venetian society that Othello encounters. In the end however, it of course transpires that it is 'good, honest' Iago who has pulled the proverbial wool over everyone's eyes and is in fact the evil, black sheep not Othello. There is a lot of talk about sacrificial lambs, which is of course a heavily used motif in Christianity which figures significantly in this play - both Othello and Desdemona are good religious beings, getting down to their knees and praying lots. Again, it was hard not to imagine Iago (Ewan) as a naughty sheep as he was being taken away perhaps to the slaughter house for being so naughty…

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