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Law on Trial 2018: Othello on Trial

11 Jun 2018, 6.00pm - 9.00pm
Place Bloomsbury Studio 15 Gordon Street King's Cross London WC1H 0AH
Cost Free

Please note that this booking is through the 3rd party service Eventbrite and by making this booking you are a customer of Eventbrite.

This event is part of the School of Law, Birkbeck’s annual Law on Trial series. Find out more here. The hashtag for the series is #LawOnTrial.

Law on Trial 2018: Othello on Trial

Reception: 6pm
Performance: 6.15pm
Symposium Discussion: 7.30-8.30pm

Hamlet. The Macbeths, of course. Richard 111 — they’ve all been tried for murder in modern-day criminal courts. But what of Othello, Shakespeare’s notorious wife-killer? How has he escaped prosecution?

Othello on Trial puts him on trial for murder at the Old Bailey. He has a lawyer and the best available defence. There’s a prosecutor and a judge with the audience taking the role of jurors in Act 2 which doubles as an open forum to discuss the key issues. Is his crime murder or manslaughter? Should extreme emotions — ‘being wrought/Perplexed in the extreme’ as Othello puts it (‘seeing red’ as 21st-century wife-killers put it) — mitigate murder today?

This is the first play in a planned Theatre in Education trilogy that recruits Shakespeare for a project designed to encourage young people to engage critically and actively with the social problem of continuing high levels of violence against women and girls in the UK. Weaving scenes from Shakespeare’s Othello, his uncannily timely ‘domestic’ tragedy about a man’s homicidal rage against his wife, with excerpts from historic and contemporary trials of wife killers, Othello on Trial dramatises the still pervasive problem of intimate partner femicide.


Adrian Howe is an Associate Lecturer in Criminology at Birkbeck. Othello on Trial is the first play in a planned public engagement theatre project. Her publications include Sex, Violence and Crime—Foucault and the ‘Man’ Question and (with Daniela Alaattinoğlu), Contesting Feminism — Feminism and the Power of Law Revisited (Routledge forthcoming).

Tanya Serisier is a Lecturer in Criminology at Birkbeck. She researches in the field of feminist politics and sexual violence.

This event is sponsored by the School of Law, Birkbeck, the Public Engagement department at Birkbeck and the British Shakespeare Association.

This event is free however booking is required via this page.

Please note that latecomers will not be admitted. Please be advised that photographs may be taken at the event.