Performing Arts Department to present Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure Nov. 9 to 18

Cast and crew to present special scene dissection Nov. 13

One of Shakespeare’s most confounding “problem plays,” Measure for Measure explores the nature of power, the relationships between men and women and the battle between justice and mercy.

In November Washington University’s Performing Arts Department (PAD) in Arts & Sciences will present a two-weekend run of Measure for Measure in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre.

Rosie Mandel
Rosie Mandel as Isabella in *Measure for Measure* Nov. 9 to 18.

Performances begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 9 and 10, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11. Performances continue the following weekend at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16 and 17, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18.

Tickets are $15, or $9 for students, senior citizens and Washington University faculty and staff. The A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. For tickets or more information, call the Edison Theatre Box Office at (314) 935-6543.

Set in 16th-century Vienna, Measure for Measure opens with Duke Vincentio (sophomore Justin Joseph), a virtuous but indulgent ruler, leaving power in the hands of his deputy, Angelo (senior Kelly Riley), whom he feels will enforce the city’s laws more strictly than has the Duke. Austere and moralistic, Angelo soon arrests a young man named Claudio (senior Lee Osorio), who has impregnated Juliet (senior Laura Alexander). Because the couple has not been publicly married (although they have been privately betrothed), Angelo sentences Claudio to death as an example.

News of Claudio’s plight soon reaches his sister, the postulate nun Isabella (senior Rosie Mandel), who pleads with Angelo for mercy. Though he remains pitiless, Angelo is overcome by his own lust for Isabella and offers to free Claudio if she will sleep with him.

Justin Joseph
Justin Joseph as Duke Vincentio

“Isabella is completely stunned and, for the sake of her chastity, immediately refuses,” says Annamaria Pileggi, senior lecturer in drama, who directs the cast of 23. “But when she tells Claudio what happened, he asks her to acquiesce, saying that ‘death is a fearful thing.'”

Yet the Duke, it turns out, has not left Vienna. Wishing to secretly observe the city’s affairs, he has disguised himself as a friar and in this guise visits Claudio’s prison, where he learns of the young man’s predicament and, later, of Angelo’s proposition to Isabella.

“There is a method to the duke’s madness,” Pileggi explains. “As a ruler, he has perhaps has erred on the side of mercy and so absents himself to see how an extremist, in the person of Angelo, handles power. And of course Angelo doesn’t handle it well, but falls to temptation.

“The duke spends the rest of the play trying to right these wrongs,” Pileggi continues. He befriends Isabella; arranges a ‘bed trick’ involving Mariana, Angelo’s jilted fiancé; and stages other deceptions before “returning” to the city as himself.

“I think the journey of the play is towards balance,” Pileggi concludes. “In the end it’s about redemption, about finding ways to temper justice with mercy.”

Kelly Riley
Kelly Riley as Angelo

The cast also features senior Lisa Sullivan as Mariana; junior Sathya Sridharan as the roguish Lucio; and junior David Weiss as Escalus, Angelo’s moderate advisor.

Rounding out the cast are senior Noga Landau as Mistress Overdone, a local madam, and senior Ian Pearson as Pompey, a pimp who works for Overdone. Senior Kellen Hoxworth is the provost in charge of the prison while junior Jonathan Baude plays Elbow, a dim-witted constable. Sophomore Aaron Kaplan is Barnardine, another prisoner sentenced to death.

Set designs are by Angela Bengford, lecturer in the PAD. Costumes are by senior Robin Vane. Lighting is by lecturer Sean Savoie.

In addition to the performances, Pileggi and the designers will host a special presentation titled “Four Ways of Reading a Scene” at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, in the Hotchner Studio Theatre. The event will feature a full performance of one scene from the play, followed by a roundtable discussion about the decision-making processes that inform the journey from the page to the stage.

“We want to complement the close and attentive reading of Shakespeare done by students and faculty in the English department with the kinds of reading that theater directors and designers do, and perhaps think about similarities and differences in the literary and the performance-based ways that we read Shakespeare,” says Robert Henke, chair of PAD and associate professor of drama and comparative literature in Arts & Sciences, who will moderate the discussion.


WHO: Performing Arts Department

WHAT: Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare; directed by Annamaria Pileggi

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 9 and 10; 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16 and 17; 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18.

WHERE: A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre, Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

COST:$15; $9 for seniors, students and Washington University faculty and staff. Available at the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets.

INFORMATION: (314) 935-6543

Justin Joseph and Rosie Mandel
Justin Joseph as Vincentio and Rosie Mandel as Isabella