In recent years, many of my courses have either assigned or showcased “remixed” literature. When I was in High School, we watched a movie that took Romeo & Juliet and changed the setting from Shakespearian Era to Verona Beach. It really helped me understand Shakespeare’s original play at a deeper level. This is because I felt detached from the story when reading the original text. By putting the story in modern times, I had an easier time relating to the underlying themes and characters of the play. I attempted to do something similar with this quick skit. When reading Othello, I couldn’t help but notice that the drama surrounding Iago’s plot to turn Othello against Cassio and Desdemona was similar to the reality TV show, The Jersey Shore.
I wanted to focus on Othello’s jealousy and fragile masculinity for this piece. There were so many other incidents of deception and trickery in the original play, but I felt that this skit would become far too long if I didn’t “trim the fat” and focus on one incident. I did my best to transform these characters into Guidos and Guidettes. While I’m not a fan of Jersey Shore, the drama surrounding Othello and Desdemona’s relationship could have easily been something that occurred in the show. By placing a similar incident from Othello into a modern setting, I believe it’s easier for someone to understand the themes of deception, jealousy and fragile masculinity. I did my best to imitate some of the slang I’ve heard from the show; which is more common these days compared to the language used in Shakespear’s Othello. Even if it’s not necessarily accurate slang, it’s an improvement compared to the seemingly foreign English that Shakespeare used. Before you read, I want to make something clear: I don’t think that every person from New Jersey is like this. I don’t think that every “Guido” or “Guidette” is like that either. I purposely over-dramatized these characters, mainly because I thought it was hilarious. Just think of it, the esteemed military commander, Othello, telling his best buddy about his girl-troubles. Enjoy the skit!
Jersey Shore: Othello’s Jealousy
- Enter Iago and Roderigo.
Iago is wearing a bright neon-green, spaghetti strap tank top exposing his numerous “tribal” and family tattoos. Roderigo has his hair slicked back to show off his glistening single diamond earring. The unlikely duo are walking down a downtown Jersey boulevard.
Roderigo: Hey buddy, yous made any progress on my proposal?
Iago: Come ahn, Give it a break pal! I’m woikin’ as fast as I can. These situations are very delicate, alright?
Roderigo: Yeah I suppose you’re right, just can’t stand that beautiful broad Desdemona all hitched up with the Othello dude!
Iago breaks out in laughter, which sounds more like a cackle.
Iago: Listen to yaself!! It sounds like you actually care about this girl. We could find 10 broads just as hot down at the club tonight!
Iago pauses, and fixes his gaze back on Roderigo…
Iago: You’re still coming out tonight, right? I got a nice exclusive table, bottle service and PLENTY of hotties who are gonna meet us there!
Iago begins to day-dream about the night filled with babes and bottles…
Roderigo starts snapping his fingers in front of Iago’s face to get his attention.
Roderigo: Focus, will ya?! Our DEAL.
Iago puts his hand on Roderigo’s shoulder, and motions Roderigo to “calm down” with his free hand.
Iago: Pump the brakes bro! It’s all under control… That Othello guy? He’s dumb worried about his lady neckin’ other dudes at the club!
Roderigo: You sure?! He’s a stud, why is he so worried?!
Iago: He must’ve been burned by some lady back in the dizzay. We’ll use the old fragile masculinity trick!
Roderigo stops in his tracks as Iago keeps walking forward. Roderigo puff’s out his chest.
Roderigo: You calling me Fragile, dude?!
Iago bursts out laughing, attracting the attention of others just passing by.
Iago: HAH! I knew that was going to get a reaction out of you. Calm your biceps, bro. We’re going to use Othello’s day one homie, Cassio, to make him think that Desdemona has the hots for him. We all live in the same house, so I can easily steal one of her skirts and plant it in Cassio’s room. They’ll have a big blow-out, Desdemona will realize he’s a hot-headed doofus and you’ll swoop in and steal his girl! Easy peasey brah.
Roderigo scratches his fine tuned, slim chin-strap and cracks a wicked smile.
Roderigo: EASY. PEASEY.
Iago and Roderigo hi-five and grasp hands. Their biceps, huge and defined from countless hours in the gym glint in the sunlight with an orange tint from the tanning salon.
- Enter Othello and Cassio.
Othello is sitting on the couch in the living room of the massive house where Othello, Cassio, Iago, Desdemona, Emilia, Roderigo and others live. Othello’s head hangs low, it appears there is a lot on his mind. Cassio notices his companion sulking from the Kitchen. Iago is sitting in the other room, eavesdropping on their conversation.
Cassio: What’s weighing you down, bro?! It’s Saturday, big night out coming our way!
Cassio is in his morning sweats. A white v-neck that is a size too small and a pair of sweatpants he turned into shorts in the name of “fashion.” Othello hadn’t gotten as far as Cassio, and was just wearing athletic shorts. He was clearly the more dedicated athlete out of the two, and his skin had a natural tan versus the other residents. His hair was long, but not currently styled. He looked mentally exhausted.
Othello lifts his head up and matches Cassio’s gaze.
Othello: I’m good man… it’s just Desdemona.
Cassio rolls his eyes and throws his arms up in the air.
Cassio: Here we go again! She’s one of the hottest girls in the area! She’s gonna have some fans, but you just gotta ignore it! Don’t forget, you’re a STONE. COLD, STUD. Pick yourself up and get dressed!
Cassio runs over to Othello and starts punching him in the shoulder. Othello cracks a smile, and throws Cassio in a headlock. The two wrestle around for a few minutes, laughing and talking shit to each other; displaying the true extent of their bromance.
Othello: Alright get off me num-nuts! I’ll hit the Gym, run my laundry, maybe get a quick Tan in and then get ready for tonight.
Cassio: Yell to Des, we’ll go to the Gym together.
Othello yells to Desdemona, off stage.
Othello: Des! Let’s get going babe!
Desdemona (off stage): Coming honey!!
Desdemona came down the stairs seemingly in slow motion. Her black hair flowing in the wind plus her seemingly effortless, perfect smile captures the attention of everyone when she enters a room. She was wearing a bright orange sports-bra with a matching set of leggings.
Iago, realizing that they have all left, sneaks into Desdemona’s room and steals one of her skirts!
Iago then places the skirt in Cassio’s room down the hall, and starts cackling as his plan starts coming together.
- Enter Othello.
Othello runs into the house looking for Cassio.
Othello: Cassio?! Where you at Bro?! It’s Tan time!
Othello runs upstairs to his room.
Othello: You in your room?
Othello bursts into Cassio’s room, intentionally left open by Iago.
Othello: Weird… he isn’t home.
Othello glances at the floor, and sees one of Desdemona’s favorite skirts lying on the floor. Othello’s eyes widen.
Othello: It can’t be… I was afraid of random’s but it was my best bro I should have been worried about!
Othello resumes his position on the couch. Cassio and Desdemona return from the store together.
Desdemona: Hey babe!
Othello: Of course you two are together…
Desdemona and Cassio look at eachother, sharing a feeling of confusion.
Cassio: Yeah…? We went to the store after the gym to get Lunch, didn’t we tell you?
Othello: Yeah I know, and it makes sense why you guys are always doing stuff together.
Desdemona: Ugh, you’re so paranoid! We’re just friends
Othello stands up in frustration.
Othello: Just friends?! So your skirt being in his room means you’re just Friends?!
Cassio and Desdemona are in complete shock.
Cassio and Desdemona, together: What skirt?!
Othello runs upstairs and grabs the skirt from Cassio’s room. Iago comes out of his room when he hears all the ruckus.
Iago: Othello, what’s the word bro?!
Othello flashes a look of disgust towards Iago.
Othello: Nothing, bro. It’s none of your concern.
Othello turns around to head downstairs and confront his soon to be ex-girlfriend and ex-best friend. Iago yet again, eavesdropped the conversation.
Iago: God damn, I can’t hear those clowns from all the way up here!
Iago snakes his way down the stairs, and starts hearing bits and pieces.
Othello, Cassio and Desdemona, arguing: …You think I’d do that to you?! … I wouldn’t do that to you with HIM… You BOTH are lying!
Iago’s face turned cynical, as he realized that his plan had worked. Othello was convinced Desdemona had cheated on him with his best friend, Cassio.
Othello shoves Cassio, and tears off the Necklace Desdemona had gotten him years ago. He storms past Iago on the stairs, packs a bag and walks towards the door.
Desdemona: Please! There has to be an explanation for this!
Othello pauses in the doorway, looks back at Desdemona, then leaves for good. Desdemona falls to the floor crying and Cassio falls into the couch with a puzzled look on his face.
Iago pulls out his phone and texts Roderigo.
“Plan was a success. Put the moves on Des tonight at the club, Bottles and Babes brah!”