In a shocking case of acting being too good to be true, a stage actor literally smothered his female co-star to death during a live school performance of the Shakespearean Tragedy Othello on Friday evening. The captivated audience at the John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School auditorium was enjoying the performance of the 17th century play in which the main character - Othello, a black man and General in the Venetian army is convinced by his jealous and traitorous ensign Iago that his loving and faithful wife Desdemona, who is white, is cheating on him and he ends up smothering her to death before committing suicide.
Quite disturbingly, no one knew that the actress who played Desdemona - Amber Lankoff was actually smothered to death on stage by her co-star - Da'quintin Brown, until it was too late. The Stage Director John Simmons had this to say about the incident:
"I am in such shock right now. I am trying to find the appropriate words to explain what happened here this evening. When it came to the scene in which Othello smothers Desdemona to death, we rehearsed it like a million times until we got it right. I kept telling Da'quintin that he really needs to get into character and do a convincing scene. He should have only held the pillow over Amber's face for a minimum of 20 seconds. But even though it has to be convincing, he couldn't afford to apply too much force because he is a very robust and athletic young man and Amber is quite petite and delicate."
Simmons went on, fighting back tears:
"Although it appeared as if Da'quintin did what I told him to do, I was never prepared for what happened next."
"I didn't realize something was wrong until Amber failed to utter her line: "O, falsely, falsely murder'd!" I know Amber is not forgetful. We still waited a few seconds though to see what would happen. It was then that I realized that she was really unconscious. I yelled: "Stop! Stop! We need to check on Amber." As her family and friends rushed onto the stage to help her. She wasn't breathing. We gave her mouth-to-mouth and tried our utmost to revive her while someone called the ambulance. Her parents were crying hysterically and understandably so."
He went on:
"When the ambulance arrived to take her to the hospital, her parents and I went with them. I tried my utmost to console them. We arrived at the Augusta University Medical Center where she was taken to the ER. Her mother Cynthia and father John were hugging each other the whole time and crying. I touched them both as a show of moral support and I prayed for a miracle. Unfortunately my prayers were not answered because minutes later the doctor came out of the ER and the expression on his face told me that it was not going to be good news. He told Amber's parents: "I'm sorry. We did all we could." Cynthia and John were inconsolable now. I was devastated too. We lost a great young lady like Amber who had bright future ahead of her and who would have made it big in Hollywood. I called one of Amber's uncles from John's cellphone to pick him and Cynthia up. When I returned to the school, I was told that someone had called the police and that Da'quintin was arrested for murder."
He ended by saying:
"But what made me even more upset was when Zack Dillon, the actor who played Iago, had the audacity to tell me: "I thought I was supposed to be the villain here." I cussed him out and told him that he will no longer be in any play in which I am the director because he is very insensitive. So now I have lost three good actors. Talk about a Tragedy turning into a tragedy."
As the tears finally flowed freely.