Measure by Wonderful Measure
A look inside TKC Theater’s latest production
It is Friday night around 7pm and the chanting of vocal warm ups can be heard, coming from the City Room. It's the second night of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and the cast is preparing to tell the comedic story of a nun, who in order to save her brother's life, must sleep with the duke.
The usual hustle and bustle of pre-show madness ensues behind the closed City Room doors. After vocal warm-ups led by the faculty theater advisor, Professor Minkoff, the director, Corinne Cordasco, organizes the cast for notes. "You have to be louder," both Cordasco and Minkoff command. They continue to give notes and run scenes that could be better.
"I hope you looked at your scripts last night because yesterday there were a lot of dropped lines," Cordasco reminds the cast. It's been a long road for Cordasco and the rest of the company. They started rehearsals two months ago and issued the fourth and final script just a few weeks ago.
"Basically the actors haven't had a life for the last three weeks. We've had five-hour rehearsals every night for the past few weeks with an 8-hour rehearsal this past Sunday," said Catherine Ratcliffe, MCA '14, who played The Messenger.
Though it's been a demanding few weeks for the cast, Alex Kelly, MCA '13, thinks it has been worth it. "It has been stressful but very rewarding," said Kelly, whose performance as Lucio steals every scene she's in.
"We started out with weeks and weeks of running through scenes sitting around a table," Cordasco explained. She goes on to say that Shakespeare plays do not need as much blocking as other plays do (such as last year's No Exit) because the actors' movements around the stage are built into the script.
"There is such a huge problem with the way the story is told by Shakespeare. In fact, in the second part of the play most of the action is narrated - so we had to make the narrated parts visual - for the sake of clarity," said Professor Minkoff.
Cordasco, under Professor Minkoff's mentorship, directed the cast while writing a workable script. Even though they did not need much actual stage practice, Cordasco had her work cut out for her rewriting a script that is often difficult for storytelling. "Because it is Shakespeare, it requires a lot of work with the text." Her hard work definitely paid off with a fantastic show.
The show was powerfully told with strong performances from Tessa Carter and Burk Ohbayashi. Ms. Carter's Isabella was innocent, passionate and captivating. Mr. Ohbayashi's Angelo was fascinatingly devious, and his midshow monologue to Isabella was wickedly good. Though there were a few misspeaks, it was nothing the cast didn't recover from.
The cast did a great job of giving a sense of setting while working with a bare bones stage. The costuming was simple and did not distract from the storytelling.
The fine arts department at The King's College has only fluorescent lighting, a makeshift stage, and black drapes to work with.
The lack of facilities does not discourage Professor Minkoff. "The [bare stage] is intentional because we are focusing on telling good stories. We are going to focus on the nuts and bolts [of story-telling and creating theater], not on our facilities or the things that we do and do not have," he said.
What's up next for TKC Theater? Well, neither Minkoff nor Cordasco would tell what show is set for the spring, though they are looking at shows that work well with Interregnum's Villainy theme. Expect another incredible show from the theater department in March or April of next year. If you missed Measure for Measure, you missed out.