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Measure for Measure (Medida por medida)

By William Shakespeare | Directed by Gregory Doran | A Royal Shakespeare Company production

  • English with Spanish subtitles
  • 148 minutes
  • + 16

The darkest of Shakespeare’s comedies is even more relevant in these #MeToo times.

Considered one of Shakespeare’s most ‘problematic’ plays, this 2019 version of Measure for Measure brings to the table topics that resonate just as strongly today as they did in the seventeenth century: the morals behind power, female repression and the limits of integrity. The story focuses on a young man condemned to death, whose only way out is to ask his sister who is a nun to intercede before the judge who sentenced him. The judge accepts, but on the condition that the woman spends the night with him. When the nun threatens to expose his impropriety, the judge’s response is that no one will believe her.

In these times of #MeToo and the accusations from women in prominent positions worldwide of harassment and abuse, English maestro Gregory Doran - director of the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company - chooses to set this story, which unfolds like a thriller mixed with film noir, in Vienna at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Performers: David Ajao (Pompey), Joseph Arkley (Lucio), Hannah Azuonye (Angelo’s secretary/singer), Patrick Brennan (Abhorson/Thomas), Graeme Brookes (Mistress Overdone/Barnadine), Melody Brown (Kate Keepdown/Justice) Antony Byrne (Duke), James Cooney (Claudio), Tom Dawze (Froth), Sandy Grierson (Angelo), Amanda Harris (Provost), Karina Jones (Sister Francisca), Sophie Khan Levy (Mariana), Alexander Mushore (Gentleman) Michael Patrick (Elbow), Lucy Phelps (Isabella), Claire Price (Escalus), Amy Trigg (Juliet) | Director: Gregory Doran | Designer: Stephen Brimson Lewis | Lighting: Simon Spencer | Music: Paul Englishby | Sound: Steven Atkinson | Movements: Lucy Cullingford | Fight directors: Rachel Bown-Williams, Ruth Cooper-Brown | Voice: Anna McSweeney | Assistant director: Leigh Toney | Musical director: Gareth Ellis | Associated musical director: Lindsey Miller | Casting director: Hannah Miller CDG | Production manager: Simon Ash | Wardrobe supervisor: Rachel Dickson | Prop supervisor: Jessica Buckley | Company manager: Pip Horobin | Stage director: George Hims | Deputy stage director: Alice Barber | Assistant stage director: Debs Machin | Producer: Zoë Donegan | Musicians: Adam Cross (clarinet, saxophone), Clare Spencer-Smith (cello), Nick Lee (guitar, electric guitar), Ayse Osman (bass), Kevin Waterman (percussion), Gareth Ellis (keyboard).

Gregory Doran

Director

One of the greatest Shakespearians of his generation

Artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) since 2012, this English actor and director (1958) is considered ‘one of the greatest Shakespearians of his generation’, with The Financial Times called him “one of the supreme Shakespeare directors of our era”. He has directed more than 30 of the English playwright’s pieces as part of the RSC, which has turned him into an undisputed world expert on Shakespeare’s plays. He has seven Honoris Causa doctorates for his contribution to theater.

William Shakespeare

Playwright

Eternally classic

This English playwright and poet (1564-1616) is undisputedly the world’s greatest creator of literature and theater and an expert at conveying his characters’ feelings, such as pain, betrayal, love and jealousy. This is why his plays - such as Hamlet, Rey Lear, Othello, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream - are still as popular as ever and are read and performed worldwide.

“A production in which there are no half measures”.

–The Guardian

“There could hardly be a better moment to stage Shakespeare’s stew of hypocrisy, abuse of power and sexual exploitation, with politics a quagmire and Me Too dragging pandemic levels of sleaze into the light”.
–The Times

“While Gregory Doran’s timely and riveting adaptation is filled with laugh-out-loud humor, there is also a bleaker side to it that makes it very much a play for today”.

–Stage Review

–Director Gregory Doran is one of the main exponents of Shakespeare’s legacy worldwide and his productions closely connect the work of the English playwright to current affairs. “Alfred J Prufrock, in TS Eliot’s poem, measured out his life in coffee spoons. I guess I have measured out mine in Shakespeare plays. I have been very lucky. It would be a shame not to finish”, he said a few years ago in an interview for the RSC’s website.

–It is still extremely relevant today, since it questions moral guidelines in times of change, very similar to what we are going through at the moment. “It is certainly the darkest of the comedies (…) I think that makes the play very contemporary. The Jacobean period was a time of uncertainty. The world seemed to have lost its moorings. Moral absolutes were being questioned. I think we recognize that today. We are suspicious of neat happy endings. Life is not like that, and Shakespeare here seems to feel the same”, explains Doran.

–Its dramatic staging, in Doran’s words, makes it seem like a thriller. “It’s very fast and has the pace of a thriller. It also feels like film noir, and we have tried to ensure that any set we have only enhances that sense, and does not hold up the action. Stephen Brimson Lewis (director of design) has brilliantly captured a sense of the spirit of Vienna”.

The Royal Shakespeare Company: Founded in 1961 as the successor to what was known as the Shakespeare Memorial Company, this English theater company’s repertoire is based on the works of the English playwright and also on other pieces from the Jacobean and Elizabethan times. It was the first theater group to receive government funding and part of its work involves running important educational activities based around Shakespeare. The company is based in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, holds live events and events via streaming and also tours worldwide.

Me Too Movement: #MeToo is the hashtag that thousands of women the world over started to use on social media in 2017 to tell their stories of sexual harassment and abuse or to support others who had been a victim of it. The movement reached a worldwide impact after The New York Times published an article about a series of sexual crimes committed by powerful producer Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood.

–Take a look at the rehearsals for Measure for Measure, available on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s YouTube channel.

–Gregory Doran, director of Measure for Measure, gives details of the plot in this interview with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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