St. Augustine, FL — The Flagler College Department of Performing Arts is announce its fall production of Shakespeare’s 1604 comedy “Measure for Measure.”
“Measure for Measure,” will be presented in Lewis Auditorium from Oct. 19 through 22 at 7:30 p.m. and on Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. Admission is free for Flagler faculty, staff and students. General admission is $15 per ticket or $5 for non-Flagler students. TICKETS: flagler.universitytickets.com
This production is adapted and directed by Dathan B. Williams, Associate Artistic Director of the Harlem Shakespeare Festival. Williams’ adaptation of “Measure for Measure” was first performed in 2010 at the Festival. He has redeveloped his original cross-gender, multi-cultural and inclusive adaptation and it is now set in 1888, St. Augustine, during the Gilded Age of Henry Flagler.
Along with “Merchant of Venice,” “All’s Well That Ends Well” and “Troilus and Cressida,” “Measure for Measure” is widely categorized by academics as one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays.” This term refers to plays that deal with controversial social issues, often having an ambiguous tone and quality that make their interpretation and categorization difficult. These plays reflect the reality, complexity and difficulties of being human.
“Our production of ‘Measure for Measure’ invites you to exam bias and to question the rules of a male dominated government and a morally corrupt cultural society,” Williams said. “It is a claustrophobic tale of sexual tension and shady ironic humor.”
During the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods of Shakespeare, all roles were played by male actors. For this production Williams is again playing with the concept of cross gender casting. Instead of all men playing all the roles, most of the male characters will be played by actors who identify as female, trans-male or non-binary and most of the female characters will be played by actors who identify as male or non-binary.
“We are challenging the audience to scrutinize their understanding of gender and how it operates in their conceptualization of humanity, mercy and forgiveness.” he said.
Williams said the audience feedback from this casting decision at the Harlem Shakespeare Festival, was that it made them, “listen and hear the text in new ways” He said this decision is also resonating with the Flagler students involved in the production, “They feel that they are being heard. They feel that they are being understood.”
This version of “Measure for Measure” begins when a Governor recognizes the decay of the enforcement of morality and social contract laws in St. Augustine and puts his protégé Angelo in charge of enforcing them. He withdraws, supposedly on business but actually in order to go “undercover boss” and test how things go with Angelo. Angelo immediately seizes Claudio, a man who because he has lost his hearing is using banned ASL and whose betrothed Juliet is pregnant, and sentences him to death for his actions.
Claudio’s sister; Isabella, who is just beginning the process of becoming a nun, enters the play and pleads with Angelo to save Claudio’s life. Angelo offers to spare him, but only if Isabella will have sex with him. She is horrified by the offer, but her brother begs her to accept the proposition.
The Governor, who has disguised himself as a friar, gets wind of these plans and arranges a trick that leaves Angelo believing he has slept with Isabella. But in an effort to conceal his actions, Angelo orders Claudio’s execution. The Governor once again steps up with a plan for this too, and at the end of the play attempts to make everyone whole. Happily? Well, that depends on how you measure the measures taken to resolve all of the characters’ problems.
“Measure for Measure” – Creative Team includes:
Shawn Fisher | set design
Rae Natzel | light design
Elaina Wahl – Temple | costume design and choreographer
Robert Dagit |sound designer
Kip Taisey |music supervision
Britton Corey |fight choreographer
Sara Elizabeth Richardson |props master
Cathryn Thames |assistant director
Tracy Lukach | stage manager
Alicia Perez, Meg Price and Haley Rexroad | production assistants
Following the Oct. 21 performance, there will be a talkback- a “post-performance conversation about the show and the issues of forgiveness, mercy, gender, equality and the method used to cast this inclusive cultural conscious cast.”
The Oct. 20 performance of “Measure for Measure,” will include ASL interpretation.
To view showtimes and to purchase tickets, please visit flagler.universitytickets.com
For questions about the show, call the Chair of the Department of Performing Arts, Leah Page, at (904) 826-8678.
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