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Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure is an unexpectedly modern play. Though it was written in the 17th century, each time it resurfaces it brings along a modern context. Struggling against the tides of power and how that power can affect humanity, Measure for Measure amplifies the political turmoil within its performance context. ArtsEmerson’s presentation of Measure for Measure is a co-production between U.K. and Russian theatre companies—Cheek by Jowl and Pushkin Theatre—and has toured internationally as…

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  “Who will believe thee, Isabel? My unsoiled name, the austereness of my life, My vouch against you and my place i’ the state, Will so your accusation overweigh That you shall stifle in your own report, And smell of calumny. I have begun.” —Measure for Measure, Act II, Scene iv Over the past thirty years of making, producing and presenting theater, I thought I had become resilient to the ways in which the news…

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Shakespeare’s legacy is rooted in language. The majority of students in the United States study Shakespeare in English classes throughout high school and the education surrounding Shakespeare curriculum is rooted in the linguistics and poetic form. His influence on English has survived centuries and his contribution to our vocabulary is often taken for granted. In Measure for Measure alone, we can thank Shakespeare for giving us the words “belongings,” “gnarled,” and “sanctimonious,” amongst a plethora…

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As a political drama, Measure for Measure delves into the dangers of authority from the perspective of both those in authority and those under it. Throughout the performance, each character struggles with the power they wield, the power they desire, and the power they’re under, trying to strike an impossible balance in order to maintain their morals. At the center of the swirling politics and wayward beliefs stands Isabella, a young nun desperate to save…

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Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure is often described as one of the playwright’s “problem plays,” shifting between lewd comedy and moral drama with halting transitions. It often leaves audiences confused as to whether they should discreetly chuckle alongside the baseless clowns or hold their breath fearfully during Isabella’s tumultuous attempts to save her brother. Measure for Measure was written between 1603 and 1604, classified initially as a comedy. However, the production history exemplifies the complicated nature…

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