Academic journal article Early Modern Literary Studies

Measure for Measure, Julius Caesar, Henry IV Part Two, Love's Labor's Lost, the African Company Presents Richard III, and Ghostlight

Academic journal article Early Modern Literary Studies

Measure for Measure, Julius Caesar, Henry IV Part Two, Love's Labor's Lost, the African Company Presents Richard III, and Ghostlight

Article excerpt

Measure for Measure, Julius Caesar, Henry IV Part Two, Love's Labor's Lost, The African Company Presents Richard III, and Ghostlight, presented by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, February-November 2011.

Measure for Measure. Director: Bill Rauch. With Anthony Heald (Duke of Vienna), René Millán (Angelo), Stephanie Beatriz (Isabela), and Isabell Monk O'Connor (Escalus).

Julius Caesar. Director: Amanda Dehnert. With Vilma Silva (Julius Caesar), Jonathan Haugen (Brutus), Gregory Linington (Cassius), and Danforth Comins (Mark Antony).

Henry IV, Part Two. Director: Lisa Peterson. With John Tufts (Prince Hal), Michael Winters (Falstaff), and Richard Howard (King Henry).

Love's Labor's Lost. Director: Shana Cooper. With Mark Bedard (King of Navarre), Kate Hurster (Princess of France), Gregory Linington (Berowne), and Stephanie Beatriz (Rosaline).

Ghostlight. Director: Jonathan Moscone. With Christopher Liam Moore (Jon), Robynn Rodriguez (Louise), Bill Geisslinger (Prison Guard), and Derrick Lee Weeden (Mister).

The African Company Presents Richard III. Director: Seret Scott. With Charles Robinson (Papa Shakespeare), Kevin Kenerly (James Hewitt), and Peter Macon (William Henry Brown).

1. This was a longer than usual season for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, extending into the first week of November, and one that included an unusual piece of drama: a crack was discovered in the roof of the larger of the two indoor theatres (the Angus Bowmer), resulting in its closure from June 16th to August 2nd. During that period, plays scheduled for that theatre were re-staged in other venues in and around Ashland, including a tent in the park. The logistics of keeping the schedule of performances going were daunting and would have defeated some other companies. The season included four productions of Shakespeare plays, two in indoor theatres and two on the stage of the outdoor Allen Pavilion, together with productions of two other plays (Ghostlight and The African Company Presents Richard III) which had clear connections with Shakespeare.

Measure for Measure

2. Most of us go to Measure for Measure wondering how the final moments will be played: will Isabella take the Duke willingly or not? This production provided an intriguing answer to that riddle by adding a cultural division between the two characters.

3. Ashland is a small town, and I had heard talk of this production having a Spanish setting. As a result, I had some concerns about how the nominal setting of Vienna would be employed. The place name occurs nine times in the text, and Vienna is no Illyria to be fashioned as you will, but a real location. I wondered whether it would become, for example, Valencia. And I wondered why Spanish was being used at all. The playbill note told us that the setting was "Vienna, an American city", and there were US flags on the stage on a number of occasions. Although the playbill did not specify a time, the clothing, music and hair-styles suggested the 1970s. This Vienna was, moreover, a multi-cultural American city, with substantial Hispanic and black communities, even if, for the most part, it was the white population that was in charge.

4. The playbill also told us that "This production of Measure for Measure is part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, a national theatre initiative sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest", and this was certainly a version of Measure for Measure which was designed for a US audience: the evocation of a Catholic, Hispanic community was not one which could have been employed as effectively in a UK production. The sense of a riftin this community was brought home in the use of English and Spanish, and especially in the pronunciation of the names Claudio, Julietta and Lucio: these were pronounced quite differently by the white characters (and even the spelling of the principal female character was altered in the playbill to 'Isabela'). …

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