Measure for Measure
April 12 – 27, 2013
Written in 1604, “Measure for Measure” is a play about government, corruption, justice and mercy. Duke Vincentio wants a break from governing Vienna, where the sex trade is running rife. So he calls on his deputy, Angelo, to take charge. Instead of leaving the city, though, the duke dons a disguise and spies on Angelo. At first, Angelo rules out brothels and clamps down on sex. But when he comes up against Isabella, the virtuous sister of the condemned Claudio, he falls foul of his own judgment, resulting in a spiraling series of deceptions, hypocrisy and scandal.
*Season schedule and dates are subject to change.
Measure For Measure Q&A
with Director Susan Coromel
Q) What attracted you to this play for the 2012-13 season?
A) Because this is an election year, the theatre department decided to produce a season of plays with political themes. Our season selection guidelines expose our students to many different genres in their four years, and this season was also earmarked for a Shakespeare production. Given these two elements I then began to consider the Shakespeare plays with obvious political themes. Because our acting pool consists mostly of women, I was drawn to Measure for Measure because of the strong female heroine.
Q) What inspired the setting for the play?
A) Measure For Measure, although considered a comedy, has been characterized as one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays” because its ending lacks poetic justice, creating a dissonance between characters, and offending our western Aristotelian sensibilities. The characters in the play are members of three distinct worlds: the underworld and the flesh trade, the administrative world of government, and the spiritual world of the Catholic Church.
When you direct a Shakespeare play you have to consider the following elements: the year it was written, the year it was set, the year your audience lives in, and the year you choose to place the play. To me the play has very modern themes, dealing with governmental regulation of morality, the corruption of absolute power, and the importance of forgiveness and redemption. I started with the song “ Add it up” by the Violent Femmes as a source for inspiration. The song kept resonating to me with the main thrust of the play's action, and I began to think of a modern world where this story could be told - an American city where there was an abundance of excess and crime. I focused my research on the New York City of the 1980’s. What also appealed to me about NYC was its architecture: from the Meatpacking District to The Cloisters, to City Hall, you can see the influence of Western Europe everywhere. The music of the early 80’s, along with the club scene at the time, was a culture full of darkness and excess. From here I will work with our designers to cultivate the specific world of the play, which the actors will then bring to life.
Q) How will this production appeal to a larger audience?
Shakespeare is wildly popular, and although Measure for Measure is perhaps less produced than As You Like It, it’s excellent theatre, full of poetry with a playful yet serious core of meaning and a fast paced story full of mistaken identities. The audience is always in-the-know, watching the Duke play “undercover boss,” and yet the play's suspense is never diminished.
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