The Bard Goes Punk in Theatre Fairfield’s “Measure for Measure”
Theatre Fairfield, Fairfield University's resident production company, takes a contemporary look at William Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure," by setting the Bard’s classic tale within the timeframe of the "Punk" generation of the 1970s and '80s. Performances take place Thursday, Apr. 10, through Tuesday, Apr. 15, 2014, at the PepsiCo Theatre located on the campus of Fairfield University. Performance times are 8 p.m. on: Thursday (April 10), Friday (April 11), Sunday (April 13), Monday (April 14), and Tuesday (April 15); and 2 p.m. on Saturday (April 12) and Sunday (April 13). Tickets are $12 for general admission; $6 for seniors & university staff; and $5 for students.
"Measure for Measure" is a play about lust, power, and corruption set in 17th century Vienna, themes that all too accurately mirror today’s world. To enhance these connections between the two distant time periods, Director Martha S. LoMonaco puts a modern spin on the classic Shakespeare piece, setting the play within the 1970s-1980s Punk subculture. "Measure for Measure" and the Punk generation both share conceptual ideas, such as rebellion against those in authority, a passionate sexual drive, and the aspiration to be anything but conventional. When is it time to initiate change? How does it feel to be punished for the sins of everyone else? Is sex worth dying for?
To help add proper atmosphere to the sets, Theatre Fairfield's design team enlisted the help of New York City graffiti artist Sharp (Aaron Goodstone), who came to the PepsiCo Theatre in March and led a comprehensive hands-on session in the rebellious art of graffiti. Sharp’s work is currently on view at the Museum of the City of New York in the popular exhibition, "City As Canvas," that chronicles the history of the New York City graffiti explosion of the 1970s and 80s. And the results of Sharp's mentoring at Fairfield are on display on the walls of the PepsiCo Theatre. Sharp, a 2nd generation graffiti artist and his 1st generation artist friend, Checker, narrated with stories that left those in the room on the edge of their seats and inspired the cast of "Measure for Measure" to grab a marker and try it for themselves. In just two hours, the stark walls of the set were transformed into original works of art created by the characters that live in the world of the play. Before and during each performance, the cast will add more graffiti, layering additional art to the walls. The tags and images displayed on the set are a visible representation of the rebellion occurring within the play and demonstrate the power of creation and individuality, especially in the face of a world trying to force its inhabitants to color within the lines. Some members of the theatre audiences arriving early will be given markers and invited to add their own creativity, passion, and art to the sets.
Professor LoMonaco noted that she wanted to present a Punk-inspired version of "Measure for Measure" after she visited the "Punk: Chaos to Couture" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last summer. "I was struck by the similarities between New York of the 1970s and 1980s and the world of the play," said Professor LoMonaco. "Young people - especially the artists living in squats in the East Village - were doing what they needed to do to get by, 'to live,' as Pompey, one of the play's down-and-out characters says to the man arresting him. They spoke truth to power and creativity, and they screamed their anger through outlandish clothing, raucous music, and defiant graffiti, just like our characters in the play." The director hopes that through this contemporary production, audience members can better relate to the timeless themes of Shakespeare’s play as told through the Punk generation the company brings to life.
Joining Director Martha S. LoMonaco are Jan Mason (Acting/Vocal Coach), Brad Roth (Dance/Movement Coach), Karl Ruling (Scenic/Lighting Designer), Hugh Hanson (Costume Designer), Kevin Schneck (Technical Director/Music Supervisor), and Lynne Porter (Producer).
All roles in the play will be played by a company of ten actors: Owen Corey '14, Mary Corigliano '14, Ashley Ruggiero '14, Franco Luzzi '15, Brigid Callahan '16, Alexander Kimble '16, Alex Mongillo '16, Véronique Poutré '17, Tori Schuchmann '16, and Brendan McNamara '17.
A series of talk-back sessions will take place following some of the performance. The schedule and host organization includes:
April 11: 'Socrates Café'
April 12, after 2 p.m. show: American Studies
April 14, after 8 p.m. show: English Dept.
April 15, after 8 p.m. show: JUHAN (Jesuit University Humanitarian Action Network)
Tickets are available through the Quick Center Box Office: (203) 254-4010, or toll-free 1-877-ARTS-396 (1-877-278-7396). Tickets can also be purchased online at www.quickcenter.com.