Love’s Labor’s Lost Debuts Modern Twist

Photo by Jim Sumerfield

While Springfest II has been circulating around Facebook with a promise of repeated joy, it has neglected to include a necessary component of the weekend: the Playshop Theatre’s production of Love’s Labor’s Lost.

Beginning tonight, April 22 and running through April 25, the Gladys Mullenix Black Theatre will be host productions at 8 p.m. with a 2:30 p.m. matinee showing on Sunday.

William Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labor’s Lost” is a meek celebration of the frailties of youth.

The plot involves a group of four young men recently self–committed to fast from worldly pleasures so that they may solely study for three years.

Shakespeare’s craftiness forces the men’s pledge into inevitable ruin by the arrival of a group of young women, including a princess.  Soon the characters are cast into a situation which tests the restraint of young men and women in the name of education.

“No women, no nothing, no distractions,” said Stephen Reaugh, ’11, who plays Don Armado in the play. “The rest of the play is them failing utterly in keeping that promise.”

Professor Beth Watkins of the Communication Arts Department directs “Love’s Labor’s Lost.”

“It’s a kind of wonderful college play to do because it’s about four young men who are going to shut themselves up in academics and not get sleep, not eat, not date and just focus on their studies,” said Watkins.

According to Watkins, Allegheny’s production is faithful to Shakespeare’s plot.

Watkins changes the time period from Renaissance England to 20th century France, just before WWI in order to make it more comprehensible and fit more female characters.

“If you relocate Shakespeare’s plays in a later period it can provide some opportunities for cross–gender casting,” Watkins said.

Watkins goes on to explain how she applied this concept to tonight’s performance.

“In the play there is a school-master and his friend and I was able to turn them into early–twentieth century, educated women,” Watkins said.

Don’t be fooled by the prospect of sitting through a Shakespeare comedy; according to both Watkins and Reaugh it is far from the realm of a typical English class.

Both slapstick and action will be heavily incorporated into the play, including fencing and hunting.  These components have transformed the text into a lucid production.

“I think it’s much clearer,” said Watkins. “It’s a hard play to read. They’re using all kinds of words that we don’t recognize. But I’m hoping that in the way they’re performing them it’s clear what’s going on or it’s clear that it’s supposed to be obscure.”

Reaugh agrees, crediting Watkins for her innate ability to stage a complicated play.

“Beth Watkins is someone who does amazing stage pictures. It’s a visual plethora of acting. It’s amazing what she has in mind for the audience to see, and I think that even though it’s Shakespeare, it isn’t going to be so hard to figure out.”

Though the play elicits much enthusiasm from its participants, some students are skeptical as to its success.

Oftentimes school sponsored activities fail to outmatch the weekend’s revelries.

“In order for more people to go there needs to be more publicity because I don’t think that everyone who’d actually be interested would know about it otherwise,” said Warren Chaplain, ’13.

Promotional posters are circulating around campus.  Tickets are free for students with an ID, $10 for adults and $7.50 for senior–citizens, Allegheny employees and non–Allegheny students.

For reservations please call the Playshop Theatre box office at (814) 332–3414.

This weekend, rather than search for merriment through a labyrinth of house parties, study something a little more classical in the Vukovich instead.