'Measure for Measure' tackles issues of morality, justice

imageUnder the direction of department chair Mark Cole, SUNY Oswego’s theatre department is preparing to tackle one of Shakespeare’s most unpredictable and wickedly comedic dramas, “Measure for Measure.”

The piece is often described as a “problem play.” Cole references Shakespearean scholar Anne Barton’s description: “It is a problem play, meaning that it presents a moral issue or problem, that is worked out, in this case, in the form of a tragi-comedy, and asks the audience to consider its own attitude towards the conflicts.”

Cole agrees. “The play is about the game of manipulation—sexual, moral, political, religious and psychological—that is played when one pursues an ‘absolute’ belief,” he said.

“Measure for Measure” follows the Duke of Vienna (Zach Levin), who has neglected to enforce the strict morality laws of the city. As a result, the society has broken down at every level. The duke, pretending to leave the city to fight a war in Poland, hands over authority to the severe judge Angelo (Michael Climek). In disguise as a friar, the duke moves about the city to spy on the effect of Angelo’s justice.

One law that Angelo enforces is the punishment of death for the act of fornication. When Claudio (Brian Heyman) is sentenced to death for getting his fiancee Juliet (Allison Kleber) pregnant, it is up to Claudio’s sister, Isabella (Samantha Mason), to plead with Angelo for her brother’s life.

Corruption is exposed at the highest level of authority when Angelo, the seeming upright judge, agrees to spare Claudio if Isabella (who is about to enter the convent) will become his mistress. A torn Isabella turns to her brother for advice. Knowing his life hangs in the balance, he implores Isabella to accept the offer. Lurking in the shadows is the Duke of Vienna disguised as the friar, who suggests that Isabella offer herself and promises that he will substitute Angelo’s old love and former fiancee at the last minute to trap him.

The design team includes Johan Godwaldt, scenic designer; Kitty Macey, costume designer, assisted by senior theatre majors Kayla Greeley and Kate Dolan; and senior theatre major Greg Brewster, lighting designer. Meghan Nolan serves as stage manager. Julie Pretzat, chair of SUNY Oswego’s music department, composed original music for the show.

A preview performance of “Measure for Measure” will have an 8 p.m. curtain time Thursday, April 21, with all seats priced at $5.

The show’s run will continue with 8 p.m. showings April 22, 23 and 30. A Sunday matinee will begin at 2 p.m. May 1. Tickets cost $10 ($9 for seniors and students, $7 for SUNY Oswego students).
Due to mature themes, the play is suggested for ages 16 and above.

For information or reservations, contact Tyler Hall box office at tylerbxo@oswego.edu or 312-2141.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Lovers in trouble—When Claudio (Brian Heyman) gets his fiancee Juliet (Allison Kleber) pregnant, he is ordered to death under the city of Vienna’s strict morality laws in the upcoming SUNY Oswego theatre production of “Measure for Measure.” The Shakespearean tragicomedy, directed by theatre Professor Mark Cole, will open Friday, April 22, and run consecutive weekends in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

(Posted: Mar 31, 2005)