Interview With… Michael Akinsulire

We chatted to Michael about starring in Frantic Assembly’s production of Shakespeare’s tragedy at the Lyric Hammersmith.

How does it feel to be part of this production of Othello? It feels like a blessing every day that I am able to add to the experience. Being in the midst of very different and expansive minds. Being able to adopt different approaches. Being able to soak in the wisdom from all that have been a part of Frantic’s Assembly’s Othello prior to this one. 

What have you enjoyed the most about bringing this show to audiences? The audience’s intentional listening. With Shakespeare grammatically and verbally not being the easiest to grasp, the audiences always do their best to listen not only with their ears but also their eyes and hearts.  When the audience listens, you can feel the energy, even in their silence.

What do you think it is in particular about the story of Othello that continues to enthral audiences? The multitude of emotional experiences felt throughout the play. Emotions that have been felt from the beginning of time to now. We’re so closely linked to our emotions as humans, it’s impossible not to relate. And also the itching moments of hope, which keep you on the edge of your seat wanting more.

How does it feel to be bringing this show to the Lyric Hammersmith? I remember walking past the Lyric when I was younger, thinking it would be an insane experience to move an audience emotionally there through a performance. Now I get to give it a real go. Game on.

How has it been working with Scott Graham on the production? Scott has provided a softness from day one which allowed ideas AND unique personalities to blossom. It’s always nice to know there isn’t an internal fight in being oneself, and I have always felt the freedom to be myself, which, in turn has always allowed me to happily digest all his wisdom and direction. In a nutshell – it’s been an absolute pleasure.

What would you say makes this production of Othello stand out? The story, the lights, the sounds, the set, the action, the actors, the direction, the truth. To attribute the boldness of this production to one thing would be a disservice. What makes this production stand out is everything that goes into it. As well as time, a lot of heart went into it – and that’s exactly what you feel when you walk out at the end.

By Emma Clarendon

Othello continues to play at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre until the 11th February 2023

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