By Diana Saenger
Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” has a reputation for being one of his “problem” plays. However, team members from the University of San Diego Graduate Theatre Program are ready to prove just the opposite — even though the department has never done the show in its 25-year history. The Old Globe will collaborate on the production, which stages Nov. 10-18 in Balboa Park.
Christopher Salazar, who plays Duke Vincentio, said the confusing script centers on a Duke who rules with the knowledge that his country has fallen into disrepair.
“He decides to leave for a while and put the strict and regimented Angelo (Matthew Bellows) in charge to clean up the place,” Salazar said. “The Duke says he’s going abroad, but instead, he stays around in a disguise and sees that Angelo takes his duty to extremes.”
A big subplot of the play involves Angelo ordering an execution for Claudio (Adam Gerber), who has premarital relations with his fiancée, Juliet (Erin Elizabeth Adams).
“This was strictly forbidden at the time, and the story gets very interesting as Isabella (Whitney Wakimoto), sister of the man to be executed, goes to Angelo to plead for her brother’s life,” Salazar said. “The strict, regimented Angelo, who is known for not giving over to any of his own carnal desires, faces just that when he meets the engaging and intelligent Isabella and falls in love with her. In essence, Angelo is feeling the same things for Isabella that he’s sentenced Claudio to death for, and he faces a huge decision.”
Salazar, who has a B.A. in Dramatic Arts from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said although he has performed in many Shakespearean festivals, he found the role of the Duke a challenge.
“I’m excited to take on something that is a bit of a stretch and go in a different direction than I normally play,” he said. “And, I’m playing my character through the eyes of another character in a mask instead of that of the Duke. I like that the play is interspersed with great comedic characters, and although it has a dark theme, it has so much comedy throughout that is just as prevalent as the serious matter.”
Salazar added that he finds much more in the script than the theme of hypocrisy. “The story is about compassion, love and loyalty, and how the human spirit can show up when someone does wrong and wants to do right in the end.”
If you go:
What: The Old Globe/University of San Diego Graduate Theatre Program production of ‘Measure for Measure’
When: Nov. 10–18
Where: Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park
Tickets: From $19
Phone: (619) 23-GLOBE