Measure for Measure (2017/18)
Directed by Lizzie Schebesta
Written by William Shakespeare
December 8, 2017 to January 28, 2018
What rules your life? The law? Your conscience? Your instinct? Faith? Should we be ruled by justice or mercy? Should a government legislate your sex life, your morality? How do you responsibly answer the prompts of your deepest, darkest impulses and remain an upstanding moral citizen?
Shakespeare may as well have written this play yesterday - an Elizabethan Orange Is The New Black meets A Handmaid's Tale - Measure For Measure pushes the genre of comedy to its darkest and most biting limits. A murky and morally ambiguous exploration of desire and power that will shock audiences with its contemporary voice, will make you laugh and make you think twice.
‘I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.’
- Dr Angela Davis
Shakespeare as a humanist has always been a touchstone for me for his insights into the human condition. When I look into his observations on the dynamics of power and sex, I see his darkest and most cynical nature. In Measure For Measure, he even goes on to shroud corruption, sexual harassment and the abuse of power in the guise of a comedy.
There is no doubt that this staging of Measure For Measure is a departure from the original. I am an unashamedly feminist theatre-maker and will frack my way into a play to bring out its female voice. Shakespeare himself told us that the purpose of theatre is to ‘hold as ‘twere the mirror up to nature’. I have endeavoured at every point of the process of bringing this production together to stay true to this tenet, while honouring my pledge to progressive, feminist theatre-making.
‘Women! Help heaven! Men, their creation, mar
In profiting by them. Nay call us ten times frail,
For we are soft as our complexions are,
And credulous to false prints.’
I have been sadly astonished in my lifetime by how much the course of justice comes down to the rules of power and sex in our society. As someone who was brought up believing men and women are equal, it has been a real shock for me in my adult life to witness how much the role of gender bias still plays in our lives. We still battle on an elementary level with a woman’s autonomy over her own body, the balance of women in leadership and the discrediting of female victims of sexual harassment and assault. We are still caught in a systemic cycle of denying women power even in the face of gross injustice.
‘My vouch against you and my place i’ the state,
Will so your accusation overweigh
That you shall stifle in your own report
And smell of calumny.’
Who is heard and who is not defines the status quo of our society. In the wake of the #metoo campaign, we are currently in the storm of finally hearing those who have been silenced in the imbalance of power. In Measure For Measure, the women of this world fight for truth and justice in the face of powerful and seemingly unimpeachable men. Women wrestle with the fate of Cassandra from Greek mythology, who was cursed to speak the truth and see the future, but was never to be believed. These women stand in contrast to the ‘Angelo’s or ‘Lucio’s of our world, who reflect the opposing mythology of the boy who cried wolf. They tell lies, which are taken as truth. Until they are not.
‘We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.’
- Ursula LeGuin
We hope you enjoy our take on Shakespeare’s darkest and most biting comedy. As 2017 comes to a close, may it give you hope and insight for the women of the future and their path to justice and equality.
"Given all this absurdity and the formulaic device of disguise and coincidence, it is uncanny that the play is still relevant today. However, it is the interrogation of the conflict between individual rights and sexual freedom, combined with Lizzie Schebesta’s intelligent feminist-driven direction, that expertly connects Shakespeare’s writing to our time."
Geraldine Worthington | Oz Baby Boomers
Photography by Kate Williams | Hero Image by Zelko Nedic
Aanisa Vylet | Pompey
Adele Querol | Mariana & Sister Francisca
Andrew Hearle | Officer
Claudia Ware | Isabella
Gabriel Fancourt | Angelo & Boy
George Zhao | Provost
Janine Watson | Claudia
Jess Loudon | Mistress Overdone
Mackenzie Fearnley | Lucio
Meg Clarke | Juliet & Messenger
Mitchell Bourke | Officer
Samantha Ward | Servant & Barnadine
Shingo Usami | Friar Thomas
Yalin Ozucelik | Duke Vincentio & Friar Lodowick
Amy Hume | Vocal Coach
Bretton Reis | Technical Manager
Bronte Barnicoat | Design Assistant
Bronte Schuftan | Assistant Stage Manager
Clara Solly-Slade | Assistant Director
Lizzie Schebesta | Director
Matt Cox | Lighting Designer
Sallyanne Facer | Designer
Stephanie Kelly | Stage Manager
Tegan Nicholls | Sound Designer
Tim Dashwood | Fight Director