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Commonwealth Shakespeare's 'Shakespeare and the Law' Series to Continue with MEASURE FOR MEASURE

Commonwealth Shakespeare's 'Shakespeare and the Law' Series to Continue with MEASURE FOR MEASURE

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC), in collaboration with the Boston Lawyers' Chapter of the Federalist Society, will present its annual Shakespeare and the Law series, focusing this fall on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, directed by CSC's Associate Artistic Director Adam Sanders and produced by McCarter & English partner Daniel J. Kelly.

The event, the fifteenth in the series, takes place at the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon Street, on Tuesday September 26, 2017 at 6:00PM. It is free and open to the public but reservations are necessary. For more information and to reserve your seat, visit

Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady and Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jeffrey Sutton, two judges on the short list of nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court, will host a discussion and debate on the art and practice of judging, framed by an abridged reading of Measure for Measure, followed by a discussion of the legal and political issues addressed in the play and their application to today's headlines.

Both the Boston federal court and the Commonwealth's state court will be represented. The all-judge cast who will perform include U.S. District Court Chief Judge Patti Saris, and federal judges Nathaniel Gorton, Timothy Hillman, F. Dennis Saylor IV, Douglas Woodlock, and Judge Rya Zobel. In addition, Associate Justice Kimberly Budd of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and retired SJC Justices Robert Cordy and Judith Cowin, and Appeals Court Justices William Meade, and Eric Neyman will join.

Measure for Measure is Shakespeare's most direct study of law and society. As Daniel J. Kornstein in his book Kill All the Lawyers; Shakespeare's Legal Appeal, notes, in it, the Bard addresses head on "how much public support and respect the law needs, whether or not to enforce dead letter statutes, and if it is better to interpret laws strictly or equitably." The plot is far from dry and academic: in a Governor's absence, a Deputy Governor (Angelo) attempts to strictly enforce long dormant laws prohibiting sex before marriage and prostitution. In doing so, he sentences young Claudio to death (after being caught in the act with his fiancé), only to offer to commute the sentence if Claudio's chaste sister (Isabella) agrees to have sex with him. The Governor (Vincentio) comes back to save the day but not before Isabella must make some hard decisions with regard to Angelo's demands. Using this plot as a backdrop, Shakespeare focuses on the special role of those who have been empowered to judge -- and the unique temptations that may beguile judges as they weigh the twin but often conflicting goals of justice and mercy.

Extending this theme, the discussion following the play will address, among other things, the judicial selection process, whether political or social predispositions can affect a judge's decision, is it fair to label a judge as "conservative" or "liberal," and how far can a judge go when he or she believes that strict enforcement of the law will produce an unfair result. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and join the debate.

The Federalist Society is an academic oriented organization comprised of law students, attorneys, professors and judges committed to creating awareness and discussion of timely and timeless issues affecting the law and society. The Society is dedicated to ensuring that traditional legal principles - limited constitutional government, the separation of powers, individual freedom and responsibility, and the rule of law - remain part of the legal debate.

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC), best known for its annual free performances on Boston Common, is a non-profit theater organization founded in 1996, dedicated to presenting vital and contemporary productions of William Shakespeare and other dramatic works to the people of Greater Boston, and to exploring Shakespeare's work with youth in innovative and creative ways. CSC's Free Shakespeare on the Common has served over one million audience members over its 22-year history, and has become a beloved summer tradition enjoyed by nearly 75,000 people annually. In 2013, CSC became the Theatre-in-Residence at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and has been able to expand its offerings beyond the annual Boston Common production, including Happy Days with Brooke Adams and Tony Shalhoub, Our American Hamlet and Beckett in Brief this season. CSC also hosts the annual series, entitled Shakespeare and the Law and Shakespeare and Leadership, that analyze Shakespeare's work as it relates to contemporary issues, leadership, and laws.

CSC fulfills its educational mission with actor-training programs for pre-professional and professional actors through the summer Apprentice program and CSC2, which presented Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, directed by Associate Director Adam Sanders at the Carling-Sorenson Center last May. To learn more about these programs, visit

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