Love’s Labour’s Lost, next week!


Back for its 14th season, Tuscaloosa’s The Rude Mechanicals will present Shakespeare’s comedy “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” 8 p.m. each night, June 1-4, in The Park at Manderson Landing; in case of rain, the show will move indoors to the Allen Bales Theatre, Rowand-Johnson Hall on the UA campus.

Free admission. Live pre-show music begins at 7:30 p.m.

Patrons should bring blankets, chairs or other seating material. For more, call 348-0343.

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Strode presents Love’s Labour’s Lost

The Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies presents its final film of the 2014-15 Shakespeare Film Series, Kenneth Branagh’s 2000 Love’s Labour’s Lost. Free and open to the public.

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Love’s Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare

The King of Navarre and his three attendant lords make a pact to forswear women for three years so that they can steep themselves in academic pursuits. Almost immediately, the Princess of France arrives on a mission from her father, accompanied (of course) by three attendant ladies. We all know where this is going. Each man falls in love with a different woman but keeps his love a secret, until a scene when each man, thinking he’s alone, confesses his love by reading a sonnet out loud. Realizing what has happened, the men break their vows and agree to pursue their women, who do not allow themselves to be won so easily. Love’s Labour’s Lost contains many of the tropes of Shakespearean comedy: wooing lovers, mixed-up letters, bawdy puns, secondary characters who serve as foils and comic relief, and the promise of marriage. More than that, it is a play about language, containing more rhymed verses and new words than any other play in Shakespeare’s canon. It plays with poetic form and delights in linguistic excess while also mocking characters like the Spanish Don Armado, whose attempts at verbal brilliance fail miserably and hilariously. The play’s ending differs from other comedies by moving toward marriage but suspending it after news arrives that the King of France has died. The couples will separate for a year, as the women return to France and force the men to renew their vows of chastity. What happens next remains unknown: records survive of a Shakespeare play called Love’s Labour’s Won, but it has never been found.

Love’s Labour’s Lost, directed by Kenneth Branagh (2000)

British actor-director Kenneth Branagh is generally credited with ushering in a new era of Shakespeare films in the 1990s. Beginning with 1989’s Henry V, Branagh envisioned himself as the Laurence Olivier of the modern era, but with a twist. Branagh became famous for his casting of both notable British stage and film actors (including himself, Emma Thomson, Adrian Lester, and Richard Briers) and Hollywood actors (including Robin Williams, Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves, Alicia Silverstone, and Matthew Lillard), and his films strive to popularize Shakespeare’s plays for contemporary audiences. His Much Ado About Nothing (1993) earned critical and commercial success, while his “uncut” four-hour Hamlet (1996) was a star-studded tour de force. With Love’s Labour’s Lost, Branagh took a risk. How would he translate Shakespeare’s play about language and wordplay to the screen, when the play itself was rarely performed on stage before the mid-twentieth century and is one of Shakespeare’s least well known? The answer is a 1930s-era musical comedy that includes music by Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Cole Porter and showy song and dance numbers by its non-musical theater stars, with the exception of Nathan Lane, whose Costard reminds everyone that “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” Critics and audiences were generally unimpressed and the film failed at the box office, but there is much to delight in here. Sure, the film is cheesy and imperfect, the musical numbers aren’t perfectly polished, and only about a third of Shakespeare’s words survive, but the film’s use of song and dance and the sheer absurdity of many scenes remind us of the joy and wordplay highlighted by the play. Beneath the razzle-dazzle, Branagh keeps the dark undercurrent of Shakespeare’s play with newsreels of European conflict and an ending that reminds viewers that loss is a part of life and that love must sometimes wait.

~Dr. Natalie Loper

*Love’s Labour’s Lost,* a recap.

To the cast and crew of Love’s Labour’s Lost: bravo!  It’s amazing just how well 400-year-old comedy ages.  I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard watching Shakespeare since…okay, maybe never.  And the show also received some major publicity: it showed up in the Crimson White (here), on the front page of UA’s website last week, and as the “picture of the week” on  Shakespeare’s cultural capital?

Be sure to check out Joey Gamble’s review of the show on Vanishing Sights.

Shakespeare’s *Love’s Labour’s Lost*

Improbable Fictions presents a staged reading of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, Thursday March 10th, 7:30 pm, in Farrah Hall Room 214 on UA’s campus.  Pre-show music begins at 7:00 pm.  Free and open to the public.

~ Cast ~

Ferdinand…….…………………Charles Prosser
Princess….……………….Sara-Margaret Cates
Biron………….……………………….David Bolus
Rosalind…….………………..Jean Fuller-Scott
Longaville….………………………Russell Frost
Maria….….………..…………………Abby Jones
Dumian…..……………….Lawson Hangartner
Katharine…….……………..Meredith Wiggins
Costard ………………………………Steve Burch
Boyet ……..…………………….Deborah Parker
Messenger……………………David Ainsworth
Pre-Show Music………..Mark Hughes Cobb
…………………………………………….Nic Helms
Director/Dramaturg…….…..…….Scott Free

Program notes included below.  Scott’s words here are a great overview of Improbable Fictions’ aesthetic.


Love’s Labour’s Lost and Found

(or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bard)

When I was in 8th grade English, we had to read two Shakespeare plays each year. That year, they were Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth. For Romero and Juliet, we read it to ourselves and I promptly got nothing out of it. It just lay there on the page and I slogged my way through it. But for Macbeth, we read the play aloud in class. Suddenly, I got one of the jokes (yes…there are jokes in Macbeth) and I started to laugh out loud. Needless to say, I was a bit embarrassed but I had made a discovery: Shakespeare is much easier to understand when you hear it as opposed to reading it. A little bit later, I made a quantum leap forward when I saw a fully-dramatized version of Hamlet on PBS. “Wow…ok……THAT is what this is all about……neat!”

The plays of Shakespeare are not novels or even short stories. They are studied as literature (and rightfully so as it is some of the finest writing in the English language) but they were never intended to be read; they were meant to be PERFORMED. As a dear friend of mine so rightly explained it,

“It (Shakespeare’s work) is daring and passionate and scary and dirty and mean and poetic and dangerous and romantic…it’s supposed to live and breathe and weep and bleed and sigh….the text is just the blueprint of the building not the building itself…it’s a guideline for how it’s supposed to be done…it doesn’t tell you what color things are, what materials it’s made of, what kind of furniture and lighting is going in there, how warm or cool the temperature’s nowhere near the final, finished product…it was never meant to simply be read…it was intended to be seen and heard…the full production IS the finished product!”

So consider what we have for you here tonight as a trip to the building site. It is a bit better than just looking at the blueprints, but it is not the finished building. A staged reading is a strange animal. It is a performance but not a complete one. You are visitors at what can only be described as an early rehearsal for the play. We will do our best to give you a sense of performance but our scripts are still in our hands…we’re still reading. I feel that this particular play, Love’s Labour’s Lost, is uniquely suited for this form. There are no big battle scenes; no sword fights. It is charming witty people saying charming witty things. I promise you will find something to amuse you. You will be entertained and you will have a better idea of what Shakespeare is like than reading it off a dry and dusty page.

But it is not the last word; not the finished product. If you like our efforts, I implore you to seek out full productions. They can be found ranging from elaborately produced extravaganzas with sumptuous costumes and massive sets to bare bones efforts with a couple actors and a stool representing a castle. All are worthy of your attention.  Only then can you see the full majesty of the Bard. The play IS the thing. Go and see as many as you can.

~Scott Free~