To change. To become. To be. It’s a tough order for any actor to embody a character so thoroughly that the guise becomes reality. But for Victor Oshin, who plays the titular role in Richard Twyman’s version of ‘Othello’, the demand of a metamorphosis is just the beginning.
The best part of being in the profession, he says ahead of his show at the Dubai Opera from January 30 to February 2, is “being able to tell stories, [to] change the narrative”.
“It’s to show a different narrative than what people see when they see someone like me or a character like me,” he says.
And it all begins with that first step on stage. Oshin, who is a fairly recent (2018) graduate from the Academy of Live & Recorded Arts in London, took on a tough role to debut with right out of drama school. He plays Othello, a practicing Muslim general at a time of Christian dominance; a man whose love is turned on its head; a creature whose devolution and madness unfolds over the course of the play. In other words, it makes for a perfect portfolio, which, when done well, captures emotion and transformation at its finest.
How does he get into the mood? Has he been the victim of a cunning Iago? Lost a connection with his Desdemona? He mulls this over for a second before laughing, “I draw a lot from my life, I guess.” He adds, softly: “A lot of it also comes from the words; I just say them as honest as I can.”
He explains the challenge of Othello’s emotions: “He goes from loving the woman with all of his heart to hating the woman with all of his heart also. And it’s always these little nuances that happen in the play that is a big challenge.”
But he’s not into drifting along. “I do a lot of research on people who have done things like this and it seems to come from a place of love, so I really understand having a lot of love in your heart,” he says.
The preparation is massive. It’s the kind of meticulousness you may expect from an athlete before a serious game. And that discipline is drawn from his younger years; at age 15 he was already a serious sportsman before an injury benched him.
“I was thinking, basically, if I can’t do this thing that I’ve been training all my life for, I’m injured but I can do something when I’m injured — which was acting. I jumped onto the acting bandwagon because I can do that if my arm’s broken, if I have one leg, if my foot falls off. I thought my work was in my youth and I kind of wanted to be more than that,” he explains.
A serendipitous meeting with a drama teacher was his key to another reality: one with shows and drama, the spotlight and travel.
But more than anything else, it also offers him a chance to change the way people see stories and react to them. Projects that interest him require a change in paradigm. While considering future work he says: “Things like [SAG winner] ‘Black Panther’ — things that open people’s eyes to yeah, black people can be superheroes too; they can save the day.”
“Things along those lines would be quite lovely and interesting. If anyone’s out there, please cast me.”
Don’t miss it!
Tickets to ‘Othello’, which runs at Dubai Opera from January 30 to February 2, start at Dh150.