West Virginia’s only Shakespeare troupe will perform Measure for Measure on Saturday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wallman Hall Theatre at Fairmont State University. This performance is free and open to the public and will feature a post-show talk back with audience members.
Vintage Theatre Company’s Founding Producer and Artistic Director and Fairmont State alumnus Jason A. Young cordially invites audiences to attend a performance of The Rustic Mechanicals’ Truth is Truth tour of William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.
Existing somewhere between comedy and tragedy, the story takes place in Virginia, which has become a hovel for brothels and promiscuous behavior. The Duke--reluctant to wield his power to clean up the city--leaves, transferring the responsibility to his deputy, Angelo. Angelo soon starts implementing harsh and radical changes. Young Claudio finds himself afoul of an ancient law when he gets his love Juliet pregnant. Angelo sentences him to death for his crime of fornicating out of wedlock. Claudio’s friend Lucio meets with Claudio’s sister Isabella and pleads with her to change Angelo’s mind. Thus begins a plot of intrigue and mistaken identity.
“At its core Measure for Measure is a play about when women speak up, men in power don’t believe them,” said Young. “I feel like the time has come for us to tell this story.”
The Rustic Mechanicals, founded by Fairmont State alumna Celi Oliveto, is the state’s only professional Shakespeare troupe. Touring three shows annually, their first show of 2019 begins its tour at the troupe’s home, The VTC Cabaret, in Clarksburg, WV, moving on from Fairmont State to West Virginia Wesleyan College, Eastern Community and Technical College in Moorefield, and venues in Elkins, Morgantown and Wheeling.
The Rustic Mechanicals, now in their sixth season, have grown from a troupe of seven actors to this year boasting a roster of over forty West Virginia artists.
Sarah Smith headlines the production in the role of Isabella.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to play Isabella. It’s challenging to portray a character with such unwavering moral convictions,” said Smith. “I’m most excited to show Isabella’s wit, courage, and fierce determination in the face of a world that finds her fragile.”
Audiences will also see Fairmont State English Professor Dr James Matthews as the Duke, Daniel Crowley as Angelo, Sean Marko as Claudio and Sarah Young as his fiancé Juliet. Justin Grow takes on the role of the foppish Lucio, while troupe newcomers Casey Johnson and Brandon Rose will be seen as the Provost and Escalus. Cassandra Noel Hackbart will play the clever bawd Mistress Overdone as well as Sister Francisca, while Jason A. Young portrays the bawd’s tapster Pompey. Kaici Lore will be seen as Mariana and a servant with Isaac Covey appearing as a Gentleman, Elbow, and Barnardine, and Joshua Brooks covering five roles: the Friar, Froth, an Officer, a Messenger, and Abhorson.
Measure of Measure is directed by kb saine alongside Associate Director Celi Oliveto with Production Design by Trina Byard, Hair & Make-Up Design by Samanatha Huffman, Sound Design by bri conley, Technical Direction by David Byard, Dramaturgy by John Shirley, and Production Management by Sarah Young, with Bridget Esterhuizen serving as the troupe’s Voice Coach, Dylan Morrison Myers as the troupe’s Text Coach, and Tommy Schoffler as the troupe’s Movement Coach.
“I’ve been really impressed with Vintage’s growth in the past few years and have been looking forward to the time when I would be asked to direct for them,” said saine. “When Jason approached me about Measure for Measure, I jumped at the chance to bring such a relevant story to stages all across West Virginia.”
For more information about The Truth is Truth tour of William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, email VintageTheatreCo@gmail.com or call 1-855-VTC-8588.
“Touring Shakespeare is a 400-year-old-tradition,” said Young. “These troupe members understand the nobility of the work and the heritage that they are a part of. I fully expect this tour to be a labor of love for us all.”