Full Casting Announced For MEASURE FOR MEASURE at CSC
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company continues its 2019-2020 Season with William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, directed by Lise Bruneau. Measure for Measure runs from February 7-23, 2020, with previews February 5-6, and press night on the 7th.
Set in Vienna-a city plagued by vice and debauchery-we learn that Duke Vincentio has turned over political power to his deputy, Angelo, to set his citizens to right. The puritanical new leader begins punishing all those in violation, starting with Claudio, who has impregnated his lover out of wedlock. When Claudio is sentenced to die, his sister Isabella-a devout novitiate-goes to Angelo to plead for her brother's life. Angelo offers the nun a choice: her brother's head in exchange for her virtue. When she rebukes his offer and threatens to expose him ("Who will believe thee, Isabel?"), she must now fight not only to save her brother's life, but for her right to speak truth to power.
Baltimore native and DC-based actor, coach, and director Lise Bruneau helms the powerhouse production-her CSC debut-and notes: "When I think of the relevance of particularly the #MeToo element in this exciting play, it's frighteningly similar to any we might hear today from both the victim, and the perpetrator's point of view. The point is that stories like this, and our own personal implications in them-ALL of ours-have changed very little. This is with the great exception of the current atmosphere where women can finally speak up about sexual harassment, thanks to a number of courageous women and heroic journalists."
Though considered one of Shakespeare's "problem plays," Measure for Measure has seen renewed interest in recent years for its strikingly topical address of gross sexual misconduct by a powerful public figure. It has not been seen on a CSC stage since 2004, and this is the first production given a strictly contemporary staging since Julius Caesar in 2017. Bruneau adds: "I chose to set this play in modern dress to keep us connected to the material. I myself as an audience member find it so easy to forget that colorful characters in period costumes are still us, and their choices are our choices; their joys and griefs are our joys and griefs; and their mistakes and shortcomings our own as well. I love to make sure that we are constantly reminded that there are no "other people" on stage... we are up there, the whole time!"
Producer and CSC Managing Director Lesley Malin adds: "I've probably seen a dozen productions of Measure for Measure and the story never fails to grab me-it's a terrific play. Chesapeake Shakespeare chose to produce this very modern work this season not only because it deals so powerfully with #MeToo issues, but it also is fast-moving, very funny, and has a touchingly unexpected love story at its heart. I love this play and I'm excited to give our audiences a lot to think about and a lot to enjoy."
Amanda Forstrom (Junk at Arena Stage, Timon of Athens and Sense and Sensibility at Folger Shakespeare Library) makes her CSC debut as Isabella, playing opposite Resident Acting Company member Seamus Miller (Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2 and Red Velvet at CSC) as Angelo. The two are joined by another Resident artist and CSC mainstay, Ron Heneghan (Macbeth and Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2 at CSC) as the Duke, Vincentio.
Returning to the CSC stage are Associate Company Member Michael Crowley as Elbow; Associate Company Member Kathryne Daniels as Francisca and Barnardine; Resident Actor Anna DiGiovanni as Mistress Overdone and Mariana; Resident Actor Terrance Fleming as Pompey; Associate Company Member Jonas Grey as Lucio; and Keith Snipes as Escalus.
Several actors are making their CSC mainstage debuts in Measure for Measure: J. Bradley Bowers as Claudio; Fabiolla da Silva as Juliet and Froth; Dawn Thomas Reidy as the Provost; and Christopher Bennett, Mercedes Fuller, David Hanauer, and Sarah Rodman as the Ensemble. Bennett, Hanauer, and Rodman are all active members of Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's Olive Branch and Laurel Crown acting ensemble and workshop program for United States military veterans, who premiered an original devised work, The Road to Bedlam, at CSC this past June.
The creative team includes Scenic Designer Dan O'Brien, Costume Designer Sandra Spence, Lighting Designer Katie McCreary, Sound Designer Sarah O'Halloran, Properties Designer Cole Owens, Music Director Grace Srinivasan, and Intimacy Choreographer Chelsea Pace.
For more information about this production or Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, visit ChesapeakeShakespeare.com.