LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST - MAY 2013, DIRECTED BY WILLIAM WOLFGANG
Seeking the prestige of academic enlightenment, The King of Navarre and three of his closest friends make a pact to forswear all the pleasures of life, including women, for three years of intense study. When the beautiful Princess of France arrives on their doorstep with an entourage of lovely ladies, the lords quickly decide some vows should be broken.
The premise of this play is fairly simple: four young men meet four young women and they each fall in love. It sounds just like another fairy tale or Shakespeare play; but, it’s not. In fact, it is very different than most other tales you will hear. While written around the same time as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is coming up later in our season, Love’s Labor’s Lost is anything but a dream; it can best be described as reality.
The King and his men want so badly to be the envy of the world; they want so badly to be wise, famous and intelligent that they would forsake what makes themselves human to do so. They represent the people in life that take themselves way too seriously, only in the end to discover their own folly. The women are smart, witty, and conniving; but nevertheless they are hopelessly immature.
Armado is a pompous Spanish soldier who views the world as though it revolves around him. When Jaquenetta comes into his life, he suddenly is at a loss on how to proceed, and begins to take relationship advice from an eight year old. And then there is Costard, he’s just a fool; everyone knows someone like this. Holofernes and Sister Natalie are so consumed in their own little world of learning and religion that they have little time to notice this colorful universe around them.
What is the purpose of all of these crazy and flawed characters? Why did Shakespeare throw them all into this lively world of Navarre? The most obvious answer I see is to make it as real as possible. I believe one could easily think of individuals from personal experience that could represent each of the aforementioned characters. Shakespeare created caricatures of all types of people in this play, threw them together, mixed it up, sprinkled a little farce here and there, and called it a show. As we put this production together we didn’t stop laughing, we enjoyed bringing these realistically ridiculous people to life.
However, Love’s Labor’s Lost isn’t just about the silly and trivial parts of life, and the nutty people that surround us. A transcendent message permeates this show, a message that is missing from all other Shakespearean comedies. King Ferdinand is not the same person at the end of the show. No longer does he seek “fame that all hunt after in their lives”, no longer does he wish for the absolutism of book learning, but rather he prepares to find something more. Many characters in this zany menagerie discover a similar truth. However, as it often is in reality, this is not an easy lesson for our characters to learn.
This play was written over four hundred years ago and still today we can relate with every character. We can relate to their laughter, their love, and their loss. Though the trying labor of love that they all go through may be lost in the end, they lose it for a reason; a very real reason. They are better, and we are also better because of it.
- William Wolfgang, Director