Shakespeare & Company Brings Back "Lunchtime Shakespeare" with "Measure for Measure" July 10-September 5

Posted July 9, 2009

{Lenox, MA}—Lunchtime Shakespeare returns to Shakespeare & Company! An old tradition from our days at The Mount returns this season, with a midday combo of a substantial boxed lunch and a frothy bite of The Bard. Measure for Measure, the rollercoaster ride of political hypocrisy and ethical dilemmas, is brought to life on the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre stage by the energetic and talented troupe of young actors in residence this summer in S&Co.’s Performance Internship Program. Associate Director of Training Dave Demke directs.

Measure for Measure plays from July 10 to September 5, with all curtain times at 12:45pm. Press opening is July 18. Tickets run $14 to $18 for Previews, and $16 to $24 performances on or after July 18. Patrons are invited to purchase specially prepared lunches and enjoy them on the terrace overlooking the Dottie and Stephen Weber Wetlands Garden or in the comfortable Bernstein Theatre Lobby. Boxed lunches (tuna salad, turkey, or veggie sandwich; apple; cookie; bottled water) should be ordered in advance from the Box Office for $7. Lunches are provided by S&Co.’s resident chef, Peter Mathis of Bountiful Harvest Catering in Pittsfield (413-281-7345). Lunches are available for pick-up in the Bernstein Lobby at noon.

The Bernstein is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For a complete listing of productions and schedules, to inquire about the 40% Berkshire Resident Discount, Youth Rush tickets, or other discounts, or to receive a brochure, please call the Box Office at (413) 637-3353 or visit For custom-designed group visits, contact Group Sales Manager Victoria Vining at (413) 637-1199 ext. 132.

First performed in 1604 and listed among Shakespeare’s comedies, Measure for Measure is as timely and relevant today as the latest disgraced politician or tabloid scandal. This lively but clear-headed play is a masterful mosaic of comedy and tragedy, intellectual debate and heart-felt passion. A searing indictment of corrupt politicians and moral hypocrisy, it is a play about balance—or rather, the consequences of imbalance when a powerful officeholder strictly enforces the nation’s morality laws, while hypocritically ignoring them in private practice. (Sound familiar?) Measure for Measure is a play that falls somewhere between comedy and tragedy, with grave issues of moral consequence interspersed with the exploits of characters like Lucio (a flamboyant gentleman), Pompey (a bawdy barkeep), and Mistress Overdone (the proprietress of a brothel).

Demke directs the 10 talented young actors accepted to the Performance Internship Program (previously the Summer Training Institute), a competitive, summer-long immersion in actor training and performance led by Demke and Shakespeare & Company’s master teachers. They can also be seen this summer in the world premiere of Wordplay at the Rose Footprint Theatre (a free whirlwind through some Shakespearean jokes, puns, facts and zingers playing August 13 through September 6), giving many of the curtain speeches in Founders’ Theatre, and the three, soon-to-be legendary Preludes performed for free before evening shows at Founders’ (Omelet, Prince of Breakfast; The Bardsters Pay A Visit; and Shipwreck/Discovery; performing before Hamlet, Othello and Twelfth Night, respectively.)

“The thing I’ve been fascinated with is the way the play will swing from tragedy to comedy, literally within a scene. That swing of highs and lows is what I’m finding very compelling, as it has to do with forward motion. Once the train leaves the station, you can’t turn it around and you can’t stop it, ” Demke says, before choosing an alternative metaphor. “It’s something of a rollercoaster ride.”

In Measure for Measure, a benevolent Duke has left Vienna temporarily in the hands of the harsh—and hypocritical—Angelo. Angelo rules by the letter of the law, even when it seems justice would be best served by a looser interpretation. Isabella, a young nun, learns that her brother Claudio has received a death sentence for out-of-wedlock practices, Angelo makes an indecent proposal to her, promising to save her brother’s life if she complies. The original “bed trick” is performed, to fool Angelo into thinking his bargain was accepted, while a “head trick” falsely convinces him Claudio is dead. Meanwhile, The Duke has not left Vienna but in fact has remained behind, in disguise, to witness Angelo’s rule. Will The Duke restore order to this tangle of illicit relationships, willful confusion, and misrule in the name of “law and order”?

This exciting production features original music composed by the Composition Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center: James Borchers, Jung Sun Kang, Elena Langer, Wang Lu, Andreia, Pinto-Correia, and Cynthia Wong. The music is performed by TMC Fellows and recorded at Seiji Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood Music Center.

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