Lots of news to report since my trek through rural Minnesota playing City Mouse during the summer… in July… now it’s October… and most definitely fall!
So what change does the season have in store for me? To start, I’m in two rehearsals for Measure for Measure and Women Beware Women, two Jacobean classics running in rep, presented by Classical Actors Ensemble. Diane Mountford directs the former, more familiar title while Joseph Papke is helming the lesser-known, but no-less dynamic Women, written by Thomas Middleton.
As for myself, I have the honor and joy to play two wildly contrasting characters – that lying scoundrel, Lucio (Measure) and the hapless, rebellious young lover Leantio (in Women). They’re both so rich in motivations and relationships with others, that I’m really relishing the chance to sink my teeth into ‘em.
Measure for Measure, for instance, has long been one of my favorite Shakespeare plays ever since I performed the famous Claudio/Isabella scene in college. While traditionally listed among the comedies, the show is now more thought of as a “problem” play. For while it may end in (several) marriages, those unions stand in hard contrast to the overwhelming themes of sexual politics, abuse of powers and the general moral degradation of a society.
Nonetheless, there is hilarity that ensues, mostly around a group of bawds, punks and mistresses – a group to whom Lucio counts himself among. Often described as a rogue and a scoundrel, he’s always quick with a sexual pun and never shy to boast of his conquests. However, there is a heart of gold under that scurvy disposition, and we see this more noble side when he’s working to free his buddy, Claudio, from the misguided chains of imprisonment. I know, I know, still pretty heavy… but I promise it’s a good blend of both comedy and drama. You know, like a dark comedy.
But I get it. If this holiday season you’re looking for something a little more dark and twisted then Women Beware Women is the show for you. I play a young, lowly Florentine named Leantio who’s fallen in love with a rich Venetian girl named Bianca. Naturally, I steal her away to Florence and promptly lock her up in a tower so no other man may ever look upon her.
Just when you think it’s going right.
What follows then is a story about the perils of sexual abuse, power and good ol’ fashioned revenge killings. Aaahhh, there’s the tragedy we were looking for in Measure!
Q: Sounds good. But it’s not Shakespeare?
A: Nope. Believe it or not, but Shakespeare wasn’t the only guy writing plays back then. Just like in our own world, there were lots of playwrights churning out work. Thomas Middleton happens to be one of the few who remains popular into our 21st century.
Q: But not as popular as Shakespeare, right?
A: I mean, no… but he sounds a lot like Shakespeare and he’s pretty good in his own right!
So there you have it folks. Measure for Measure and Women Beware Women coming soon, featuring some super talented women and men in both casts. Full information can be found below, as well as at classicalactorsensemble.org.
Classical Actors Ensemble presents
Women Beware Women
by Thomas Middleton
directed by Joseph Papke
Measure For Measure
by William Shakespeare
directed by Diane Mountford
Playing in alternating repertory
November 30 – December 23, 2018
7:30pm Thursdays – Saturdays, and 2:00pm Sundays
Pay-What-You-Can Performances on
Mondays, December 10th & 17
Performing at the Gremlin Theater
550 Vandalia Street, St. Paul, MN 55114
Tickets: $18 – 42
Samantha V. Papke*
Daniel Kristian Vopava*
Tech/Design work from
André Johnson Jr*
David P. Schneider
* denotes CAE Core Artist