The Q Brothers Talk Othello: The Remix, Performing at London's Globe Theatre, & Making Each Other Laugh Onstage
November 14th, 2016
by Gregory "GQ" & Jeffrey "JQ" Qaiyum
The Q Brothers are back in New York with Othello: The Remix, an 80-minute adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello set in the modern world of hip-hop music where Othello is a superstar and Iago is a faithful member of his crew who should be the next big star but finds himself eclipsed by Cassio’s cross-over appeal. Like The Bomb-itty of Errors, Funk It Up About Nothin’, Q Gents and I <3 Juliet, the electrifying new musical adaptation is created and directed by the Chicago siblings Gregory "GQ" Qaiyum and Jeffrey "JQ" Qaiyum. The show was originally commissioned by The Old Globe Theatre in 2012, and has since played Edinburgh, Germany, South Korea, Poland, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates and Chicago before landing at off-Broadway’s Westside Theatre.
BroadwayBox caught up with the dynamic duo (who also star in the show: GQ is Iago/Brabantio and JQ is Roderigo/Loco Vito/Bianca) to talk to each of them about their latest project.
My favorite moment we share onstage together in Othello: The Remix:
Early on in the play, before Cassio's big dance number, J and I sit upstage together before we become back up dancers. J often forgets the first move of this transformation. So I elbow him to remind him of it. Every once in a while, he elbows me to remind me that I'm the one who forgot about it this time. We share a laugh then.
When Iago (GQ) convinces Roderigo (me, JQ) to try to kill Cassio. I usually have a little improv moment there and I always try to get G to crack up. If I see a little smirk, one point for me. If he keeps a straight face, I'll get him next time.
I think our most memorable performance pre-NYC had to have been:
Definitely The Globe in London. Totally sold out. Incredibly received. So exciting and humbling and... so tough to put into words.
Performing at The Globe in London. It was a hair raising experience words cannot describe.
The biggest way our performances have changed since the show’s premiere:
Our ensemble is our family. Just as a family grows together through joyous times as well as challenges, so have we. Our performances reflect that deep growth and support of each other.
Our ensemble is me and my brother and our two best friends. It's only gotten tighter. We've rewritten lots, composed new music, and redesigned the whole world. It's very exciting.
The first thing I did when I found out we were coming to New York:
Gave thanks and praise, told myself to not get excited until we're actually performing for audiences in New York, and then I'm pretty sure I got drunk.
Sheepishly tell my full time working bad ass super-hot wife that she also had to be a single mom for months... She came around eventually ;)
A small moment we have in the show that I love:
There is a moment backstage about mid-play when I'm getting off stage and J is about to go on. we always check in and bump fists. We rarely ever say anything, but so much is said with a simple action.
There's a moment in the opening that we all make eye contact and tacitly say, "here we go!"
The line from the show I find myself thinking about most outside the theatre:
"In a cold, dark, and unforgiving system we struggle with our destiny. When the world is crumblin, emerge from the rubble and your love will set you free."
"I wish you were a drunk midget and we were surrounded by titties.".
Off-stage, we bond over:
Pretty much everything.
Pop-a-shot, French fries, and cider.
I’m in awe of my brother’s ability to:
Play the most colorful and outrageously hilarious characters in the play with such an all in commitment and spirit, and then tell people he doesn't know how to act!
Be the most empathetic human being I've ever met and such a caring and loving older brother, while still playing the bad guy so convincingly every night.
Hip-hop song I’d use to describe my brother’s personality:
"Juicy" by Notorious B.I.G.
"Raise it up" by Slum Village.
Photo by Carol Rosegg
See GQ & JQ live in Othello: The Remix at the Westside Theatre.