Women-led production tells the story of ‘Desdemona’

The Minnesota State University, Mankato Theater Department is back with “Desdemona: a Play About a Handkerchief”, an retelling story of the women in Shakespeare’s “Othello”, as stated by the programs website. 

“What we’re really trying to do with this production,” says director Sarah Honerman, “is speak to how women need to work together to lift each other up.” 

The plot of this show may come familiar to some. “Desdemona” is the story of Shakespeare’s “Othello” but told from the female perspective. 

Featuring haunting voice overs of lines from the original show, along with dynamic light production to highlight the plights of the three lead women, the show pleads for the audience to consider Desdemona’s plight, and whether she ultimately deserved her fate. 

“There are multiple sides to every single story, and this one is about how just because you aren’t actively hurting someone, if you aren’t stopping it but you’re aware of it, you are still a part of the problem,” says MNSU junior, McKenna Prill, who plays Desdemona in the show. 

Prill spoke about the amazing experience she had working with other women on this show, a sentiment echoed by both other leads and director Honerman. 

“It’s an all-woman cast with a female director and even a female stage manager, so it’s just been this really beautiful, safe space to create theater together,” Honerman said. 

Grace Ricard, who plays Emilia in the production, remarked, “It’s a story about women, led and made by women. I’ve never been in a show like this before.” 

“Desdemona” is one of Honerman’s first collegiate-level shows. 

“I’ve been directing for seven years now, but only ever in the high school sector, so this experience has been really fun in terms of actors who are a little bit more seasoned and are willing to try new things without feeling like they look silly,” Honerman commented. 

While Honerman was excited to work the show, the actors were equally as excited to have her there. 

“When this show was announced, I really had my eye on it, especially knowing who the director was. Working with her has been amazing,” said Ricard. 

“Desdemona” is a double-casted show, meaning all three leads having understudies who play working women when not leading. Via Logan understudies Emilia, Isabella Fox understudies Desdemona, and Hannah Sayler understudies Bianca. 

“It’s been amazing watching them [the understudies] perform and seeing the world that they create because it’s so different from ours,” remarked Allyson Bryson, the show’s principal Bianca. 

Continuing off this, Honderman remarked, “They have worked so hard, and they will have their own performance on Saturday for the Matinee, which is really cool.”

Desdemona runs March 24-28 in the Andreas Theater and tickets can be purchased online. 

“Everyone in this show has created such an amazing atmosphere, and it’s just been an absolute joy to work on,” said Bryson. 

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