Theatre 520: Measure for Measure

Incorporating steampunk style in the sets and costumes of their play, the participants of this spring’s Theatre 520 production have put a decidedly modern twist on Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure.” The play will be on show in Tang Theater this weekend. The play is the last theater endeavour at Andover for Mark Efinger, Instructor in Theatre and Dance, who will be leaving Andover at the end of this term. “Measure for Measure” is directed by Efinger along with student writers, assistant directors, Shelby Carpenter ’12, Lydia Kaprelian ’12, Arianna Chang ’13 and AJ Pisch ’13 and producers, Taylor Perkins ’12, Lighting Director, and Miranda Haymon ’12, Stage Manager. “[My favorite parts of being involved with the play were] conceptualizing and planning the entire production and… working with the actors and technicians to realize it,” said Efinger. The play focuses on Isabella, a nun, played by Elizabeth Oppong ’12, whose brother, Claudio, played by Charles Horner ’12, is sentenced to death for his unofficial marriage. “My favorite part about playing Isabella is that she is extremely sharp and has a talent with words, which makes her lines tough but rewarding to perform,” said Oppong in an e-mail to The Phillipian. Angelo, played by Sven Lerner ’13, is a strict judge and ruler of Vienna in the absence of the Duke of Vienna, played by Anthony Tedesco ’12. Angelo puts Isabella in a difficult situation when he says he will only spare Claudio’s life if she gives him her virginity, creating the stem of the plot. The plot thickens from there as unexpected and interesting twists and tricks occur within the characters and the storyline. The play is set in Vienna during a rather unusual period in history when the world was transitioning into the Industrial period, called ‘steampunk.’ “Steampunk is a Victorian era but more punked out with a lot more hypersexuality and almost all of the things that were trying to be hidden in the Victorian era come to the surface, and we thought that would be a really good motif for the play… Working on that concept in the costumes, in the mentality, in the characters and in the set was my favorite part,” said Pisch. “We were looking for a period that would give us an opportunity to focus on the major themes of the play, which are justice and the abuse of justice and the hypocrisy in that process. And we felt that a period that is kind of an amalgam of several different periods and yet had a retro feel was most appropriate,” said Efinger. He continued, “AJ Pisch is the one who, finally, when I said kind of Victorian but a little futuristic, said ‘steampunk’… And then developing that idea and trying to figure out how it would stretch itself over the entire play and whether it was in fact the right mechanism to land the play conceptually – that was a pretty exciting process.” The set is designed as a castle-like scene with iron gates that roll down, wooden doors that seem heavy with slamming sound effects and a rotatable fountain that portrays a figure of justice. The gears on the walls of the set are rotatable, representing the industrial time period during which the play is set. The unique time period, characters, costumes and setting complemented the play that deals with the themes of justice, mercy and truth. “In terms of working with the actors, the most exciting part was the casting. You never know who is going to show up… Again, working with the assistant directors and Miranda , my stage manager, trying to get all of our opinions involved in coming up with the most effective cast to tell the story out of the kids who showed up–that was a very exciting part,” said Efinger. The student directors and producers of the play played a huge role in bringing “Measure for Measure” together, coming up with ideas, writing scripts, working with the over 150 lights featured in the play and making sure the actors fit well with their characters. The student directors were each given a scene within the play to block. The student directors then worked closely with the actors, according to Carpenter. Carpenter said, “It’s a learning process for us, like trying to figure out what it means to direct a huge production like this.” Haymon said, “It’s been really fun, I’ve gotten to know the cast really well… and become friends with a lot of these people because of the show. And also, it’s my last 520, so I’m happy that I can do something like this, which is also Mark [Efinger]’s last 520.” The entire cast of “Measure for Measure” has worked tremendously to bring this production together for the opening night, and it is certainly a unique Theater 520 production, as it is the final one at Andover for many of the Senior crew members involved. “Measure for Measure” was open for Seniors, faculty and staff on Thursday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m., and it is open to the general public tonight at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 26 at 8 p.m.