Love’s Labors Lost
by William Shakespeare
Director Sara Freeman
Scenic Design by Jarvis Jahner
Costumes by Anie Smith
Lighting Design by Frani Geiger
Technical Direction by Janet Rose
Sound and Video Design by Brian Cook
Cast: King of Navarre: SAM GREENSPAN , Berowne: JOHN JEFFREY, Longaville: BRIAN BUTTERFIELD, Dumaine: COLIN LAWRENCE, Princess: SONYA DAVIS, Rosaline: KATIE PELISSIER, Maria: STEPHANIE MORGAN, Katharine: HANNAH QUIGG, Boyet: VIRGINIA RICE, Attendant: MEGAN MATTHEWS, Attendant: HALEY HOFELD, Costard: MARTIN DIAZ-VALDES, Dull: RYAN DOUGHERTY, Jaquenetta: KATHLEEN LEARY, Armado: CHARLIE VAN DUYN, Mote: TIM VERGANO, Holofernes: CAITLIN WINKENBACH, Nathaniel: EVAN MARSHALL
Though there is uncertainty about its exact dates of writing, Love’s Labors Lost first saw printing in 1598. The play admirably suits an age where the courtship of a queen was a constant concern for the whole social order. But I have imagined the play set in the period just before the start of World War I for quite a while, largely because of reading, during my own college years, Vera Brittain’s beautiful memoir Testament of Youth about her time as a student just before the war, her service as a nurse during the war, and how her fiancé’s death in the war redefined her life. This book rendered vivid for me the experience of an entire generation of young men and young women, leading joyful, complex, and rather privileged lives who then lived through a cataclysm. Brittain’s narrative about how sometimes things are rent asunder that cannot be put back together again has stayed with me ever since. Love’s Labors Lost’s inherent exploration of the competing claims of love and duty heightens with a 1914 setting in a way that excited the production team and me. The play catches witty young men and women at the intersection of personal discovery and complex developments in the social and political world and this time setting also captures that dynamic: there’s all the foolishness of college men taking a vow to study more and quit getting distracted by girls, there’s all the joy and merry-making of an aristocratic Edwardian country weekend, and there’s the way that we all live in history where events play out bigger than us.
Indeed, because I work at a university, I spend a lot of time with young men and young women figuring out how to balance courtship and study. This might sound sweet and light compared to the burdens of adulthood, except that it isn’t. I watch and I relate to how serious my students are about figuring out how to make those “world without end” bargains that the Princess temporarily refuses at the end of Love’s Labors Lost. My interest in staging Love’s Labors Lost stems from my adoration of Shakespeare’s effervescent concatenation — its language, its humor, and its startlingly honest final turn that complicates comic conventions — and also from my interest in the way it speaks to a process of maturation and decision-making, which I am not sure any of us are ever done with, world without end bargain or not.