Cynicism, bitterness, secret identities and manipulation are some of the themes explored in Shakespeare’s comedy “Measure For Measure,” which opens April 24 in the Dailey Theatre.
When the Duke of Vienna suddenly leaves the city, he leaves a strict deputy, Angelo, in place.
Angelo enforces overlooked moral laws and punishes Claudio who has sex before marriage with his fiancée.
When Claudio’s sister, Isabella, finds out, she begs for her brother’s life. Angelo proposes an immoral offer in exchange for his life.
Throughout the play, different characters have to contemplate decisions that challenge their morals and beliefs.
The Theater Department is collaborating on this production with the La Verne Shakespeare Experience.
Sean Dillon, associate professor of theater and director said he has always wanted to direct a Shakespeare play.
“‘Measure for Measure,’ for some time, struck me as an interesting play from a contemporary perspective, because some of the themes resonate in our contemporary society,” Dillon said.
Although “Measure for Measure” is one of Shakespeare’s shorter plays, Dillon said it has been a challenge.
“It is a comedy, but it’s often done so that the humor is very understated.” Dillon said. “I wanted to see if we could stretch that polarity. There is some silliness, but there are also very serious things,” he said.
The play, which is a little over two hours, is very fast paced.
Dillon said his goal with this play was to make it entertaining for everyone, even people who are not comfortable with Shakespeare.
“I want to make sure I take the audience on a ride with me,” sophomore theater major Mona Lufti, who plays Isabella, said.
“I want them to be able to go on this journey with me and feel what is happening to the character,” she said.
After almost two months of rehearsing, preparing and researching their roles, the actors are looking forward to performing.
“I’m looking forward to the audience reaction — what they laugh at, what they don’t laugh at and how much they actually understand,” La Verne resident Anna Bartelt, who plays a servant and messenger, said.
“There’s a definite satisfaction when you see the audience react the way you want them to,” sophomore theater major Alexander Freitas, who plays the provost, said.
“It’s almost like you want to crack a smile on stage but you can’t,” she said.
Dillon, along with the actors, encourages people to watch the play.
“This is an opportunity for our campus community to see something that people have worked very hard on,” Dillon said. “They have done this not out of requirement but out of love for what they do.”
“It’s an opportunity to see something that is done with a high level of practice. It’s something that you can’t get at the movies. You can’t get that live participation,” he said.
The comedy opens at the Dailey Theatre on April 24 and runs through May 4 at 7:30 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinée on May 4.
Alejandra Aguilar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.