This is a play that I wanted to produce when I first thought about having a theatre company with a faith mandate. I was at CalArts thirty years ago and I did some scene work from it and went ‘if I ever had a theatre company, we would do that play!’ It’s such a complex, in-your-face challenge about moral quandaries.
How does MEASURE FOR MEASURE connect with Pacific Theatre’s faith mandate?
I believe that Isabella is one of the great characters of faith in all literature. She chooses a life of faith, but when her own devotion, her own commitment to her faith jeopardizes her brother’s life, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
When I studied the play at theatre school, I read an essay by G. Wilson Knight called "Measure for Measure and the Gospels." The title of the play itself is a quote from Jesus about forgiveness – the measure you give is the measure you’ll receive.
This is one of Shakespeare’s most explicitly spiritual plays. It's explicitly about the life of faith colliding with a different set of values and expectations.
How does this play connect with our contemporary culture?
The situation Isabella finds herself in couldn’t be more contemporary - that toxic blend of sex and power is constantly in front of us.
There is a problem that arises when people in power use that power to force people into difficult situations – specifically, men in positions of power using that power with a sexual expectation. This is a very real problem today; it simply has not been fixed yet.
I’m also a believer that some things are an issue in human lives all the time, and these questions are an issue in human lives all the time. So it does have a particular contemporary edge, but even without that, it is a deeply human story.