Home > Recent Projects > Measure for Measure


Directed by Michael Hurst
for the School of Performing and Screen Arts, Unitec
in Auckland at Unitec Theatre, 26 March-3 April, 2004
in Hamilton at Telecom Playhouse, 6-7 April 2004





Director's Notes:

Measure For Measure has been considered one of Shakespeare's "problem plays", along with All's Well That Ends Well, Trollius and Cressida, and Hamlet. I think it's a subjective thing, the approach to Shakespeare. In my view this play is a problem in that it poses questions not only about our moral and ethical natures, but also about the nature of the Shakespearian five act comedy itself.

During rehearsals we often wondered whether we were in a comedy at all, and yet at times we laughed ourselves almost to tears. Disguises, jeopardy, bawdy, an angel (Angelo) being tempted by a devil (Lucio = light = Lucifer), a bed trick, sex and innuendo, confusion, predicament, an exotic location (the Catholic thing must have been a bit risky in Elizabethan England to say the least), and the wonderful dance of resolution that comprises the fifth act with its marriages and comic punishments, make this play appear to be simply comic, while beneath these stock forms and situations there lurks I believe a more serious intent. We can ask questions of every facet of a play when the writer of that play is a genius who illuminates the human condition as profoundly as Shakespeare does. There are no accidents it seems. In finding a new subtlety of meaning or revelation about acting in Shakespeare, or some new and revolutionary interpretive angle, you realize that it was more than likely always there.

At the time of writing we have left several questions unanswered, though the fact that we asked them was challenging in itself. Does Isabel go with the Duke? Does she forgive her brother Claudio? Is the Duke a good man? Is Angelo really "New Made" at the play's conclusion as a man of warmth and humanity? What should we think about "giving our sensual face the rain"? I am fascinated to see how we answer them as we run the play into its season.

Shakespeare (whoever he really was) was a shaministic visionary who still wields an extraordinary power for us. As actors we can only attempt to climb through the existing physical and metaphysical form of his plays and hurl ourselves at every branch he offers with total commitment in order to arrive at the other end wrung and shriven, a better person for the experience. What a gift!

These third year students have given it everything. I have loved every moment of these rehearsals. Working with young, hungry, physical actors is not only energizing it throws one's own knowledge and experience into a brighter scrutiny and makes it necessary to commit extremely seriously, as they do, to the work.

In this case we have the task of making this problematic, amazing, demanding, brutally brazen at times comedy stand up vividly and as clearly as possible in the 21st Century--and that is the best thing!

Michael Hurst    

Duke    Clarence Shelford
Lucio    Benjamin Leg
Angelo    Glen James Pickering
Isabella    Rachael Dyson-McGregor
Provost    Bronwyn Turei
Escalus    Hannah Gross
Claudio    Rohan Glynn
Marianna    Erin Elizabeth Williams
Julietta   Lucy McCammon
Elbow    Daniel Mainwaring
Pompey    Edward Peni
Mistress Overdone    Madeleine Hyland
Francisca   Natalie Jane Harrison
Froth/Friar Peter    Ashley Hawkes
Aborson/Sailor    Jonathan Allen
Barnadine/Sailor    Cris Molloy
Director    Michael Hurst
Set Designer    Rachael Walker
Costume Designer    Vicki Slow
Lighting Designer    Brad Gledhill
Production Manager    Phil Evans
Head of Scenic Technology    Grant Wackrow
Head of Wardrobe Technology    Suzanne Sturrock
Wardrobe and Prop Coordinator    Vicki Slow
Scenic Art Tutor    Jennifer Town
Head of Performance Technology    Steve Marshall
Stage Manager    Charlotte Shuker
Performance Operator    Byron Williams
Sound Design    Robert Hunte
Scenic Team    2nd Year Scenic Students
Wardrobe Team    2nd Year Wardrobe Students
Props Team Leader    Shelley Watson

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From the New Zealand Herald "Best of the Weekend" column, 24 March 2004:


Michael Hurst last directed Shakespeare's Measure for Measure 15 years ago. Time for another bash. For this production, featuring third-year acting students from Unitec's School of Performing and Screen Arts, Hurst has shifted the action from 17th-century Venice to the Vatican II of the early 1960s, when the Catholic Church was in a state of moral upheaval. It fits perfectly with the play's themes of sex and hypocrisy, says Hurst. "The central theme is 'judge not lest ye be judged' and it asks all these puzzling moral questions that are still very relevant today."

Measure for Measure, Unitec Theatre, Entry One, Unitec, Carrington Rd, tonight, 8pm, adults $15, concessions $10. Ph (09) 815 3094