Psychologists are used to dealing with a variety of unusual characters. But one practitioner in the West Midlands is set for a shock when an Elizabethan Venetian noble walks through the doors.
Birmingham-based actor Patrice Naiambana will be going to see a psychologist in character as Othello, the tortured Moor of Venice.
Naiambana is preparing for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Othello, which will be touring at the start of next year.
And the actor, who has recently finished a two-and-a-half year run through Shakespeare’s histories, said he expects the role to be one of the most demanding in his career.
He said: “It’s emotionally demanding, and it requires a great sensitivity in terms of playing someone who’s going to kill his wife - what leads a man to do something like that?
“I have had emotionally demanding performances but I don’t think I have had to play a character that’s quite like this.”
“I think you need a very sensitive and open relationship with your director and the people you are playing with to start with, and you need to step down and have a good look at yourself and what research you can draw on.
“You have to do a bit of detective work. One of the things I will be doing is taking my character to a psychologist, I would like to go in character, mid-dilemma.”
The production will be directed by Kathryn Hunter, who said she was hoping to “re-examine the heart of Othello”.
And Naiambana said he was looking forward to examining Othello’s role as an outsider.
He said: “We all experience outsiderness, we all experience trying to fit in.
“I do read a lot but I have been interested in Othello for a number of years now as a conduit for dialogue.”
He added the only role he had ever played that matched Othello for emotional intensity was when he played a rebel leader from Sierra Leone in a one-man show called The Man Who Committed Thought.
Unlike a majority of actors at the RSC, Naiambana, who has lived in Birmingham for nine years, has no classical acting training, and learned his skills in a series of apprentices, starting when he visited Sierra Leone as a youth.
He said: “I have had to learn with every job I do. I have just spent two-and-a-half years on the Histories and I think I may have been the only person who did not have any formal training.
“I tend to use movement, dance and story telling to get involved in a story.”
He added he would be interested to see how fellow West Midlander and comedian Lenny Henry - who is taking on the role of Othello at the same time next year - approaches the role.
“I’m interested in anybody engaging with Shakespeare, especially from this fantastically varied diasporic country we live in,” said Mr Naiambana.
“Given that Lenny is a performer it will be interesting to see what he makes of it, coming from Dudley.
“I’m always interested in what non-specialists make of Othello.”
The RSC will be touring Othello to Coventry, Hackney, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Oxford and Liverpool between January and March 2009.
The Coventry performance will be held at the Warwick Arts Centre, at the University of Warwick, from January 30 to Saturday, February 7.
RSC Producer Jeremy Adams said: “Touring is a hugely important part of the RSC ‘s work to connect people with Shakespeare.
“We’re delighted Othello will travel the country giving audiences everywhere a chance to experience Shakespeare live.”