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Stanford Report, November 6, 2002

Puppets, actors share stage in 'Measure'

BY JOHN SANFORD

Measure for Measure, by William Shakespeare, is about the pitfalls of legislating morality. Moreover, it's about sex.

In the Drama Department's upcoming production of the 400-year-old play, puppets represent prostitutes and other frowned-upons. They play alongside 11 regular actors.

Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Nov. 13-16, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, in the Old Union's Nitery theater. General admission is $8. Tickets will be sold at the door.

"The puppets represent people who are dehumanized in a certain sense by the application of such strict laws of the body," explained director Barry Kendall, a graduate student in the Department of Drama. "The plot builds around a pretty high anxiety about sex. The nobles are puritanical and the bawds are exclusively wanton and sexual."

To coax the most out of this moral disparity, characters are buttoned up like Victorians or arrayed in costumes reminiscent of Brazil's Carnaval.

The plot turns on government efforts to enforce laws against fornication in Vienna, where brothels are booming and women are getting knocked up out of wedlock. The Duke deputizes the priggish Angelo to get the job done. As a result, Claudio is arrested and sentenced to death for impregnating Juliet, his common-law wife. But Angelo finds himself sliding into the very sin he admonishes when Claudio's sister, Isabella, pleads for her brother's life. As a condition of his release, Angelo demands sex.

What follows is the Bard's well-known mixture of craft, disguise and revelation.

The puppets range from small (hand-size) to large (life-size) and are manipulated by two Stanford students. Two other students provide the voices.

The 11 human actors are undergraduates. Director Kendall, who is in his second year of working toward a doctorate, played the madman last spring in the Drama Department's production of The Madman and the Nun. He is former managing director of 7 Stages Theater in Atlanta and has worked as a director, actor and dramaturge for various professional and university theaters.

For more information about the upcoming production, contact Alison Duxbury at 723-2646 or e-mail Mandana Khoshnevisan at mandana@stanford.edu. SR