Text of BINGHAM SIGNATURE SHAKESPEARE LOVE’S … · bingham signature shakespeare love’s labour’s...
by William Shakespearereimagined by Steve Epp, Nathan Keepers and Dominique Serrand
directed by Dominique Serrand
BINGHAM SIGNATURE SHAKESPEARE
LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST
IN THIS PLAY GUIDE
LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST
SYNOPSIS, CHARACTERS AND SETTING
LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST: A CONVERSATION WITH THE
CREATIVE TEAM WRITING PORTFOLIO
ABOUT THIS PLAY GUIDEThis play guide is a resource designed to enhance your theatre experience. Its goal is twofold: to nurture the teaching and learning of theatre arts, and to encourage essential questions that lead to an enduring understanding of the play’s meaning and relevance.
Inside you will find information about the plot and characters within the play, as well as articles that contextualize the play and its production at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Oral discussion and writing prompts encourage your students to reflect upon their impressions and to analyze key ideas and relate them to their personal experiences and the world around them. These prompts can easily be adapted to fit most writing objectives. We encourage you to adapt and extend the material in any way to best fit the needs of your community of learners. Please feel free to make copies of this guide, or you may download it from our website at actorstheatre.org. We hope this material, combined with our pre-show workshops, will give you the tools to make your time at Actors Theatre a valuable learning experience.
LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST STUDENT MATINEES & THIS PLAY GUIDE ADDRESS SPECIFIC EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES:
Students will identify or describe a variety of roles needed to produce a dramatic performance.
Students will analyze how time, place and ideas are reflected in drama/theatre.
Students will explain how drama/theatre fulfills a variety of purposes.
If you have any questions or suggestions regarding our play guides, please contact Steven Rahe, Director of Education, at 502.584.1265 x3045.
EDUCATION/TEACHING ARTIST INTERNSCasey FlythBen Niewoehner
CONTRIBUTING WRITERSLezlie Cross Jane B. JonesSteve MouldsSteven Rahe
GRAPHIC DESIGNAndy Perez
PLOT SUMMARYAfter losing a war to France, Ferdinand, the King of Navarre, and three of his faithful lords vow to seclude themselves from worldly distractions. The men swear to study, fast and avoid the company of women for three years. However, when the lovely Princess of France and her ladies arrive with a message from the King of France, this oath proves harder to keep than any of them thought.
In this funny, playful, one-of-a-kind reimagining of Love’s Labour’s Lost, by a trio of artists from the Moving Company—a Minneapolis-based ensemble of boundary-breaking theatre artists—borrows language from across Shakespeare’s repertoire to investigate and celebrate the Bard’s own romance with the pursuit of love.
SETTINGA meadow on the outskirts of the King of Navarre’s camp.
The Kingdom of Navarre was located on either side of the Pyrenees Mountains near the Atlantic Ocean between Southern France and Northern Spain. The territory of the former kingdom is currently divided between the two countries.
FERDINAND King of Navarre
BEROWNE, LONGAVILLE, AND DUMAINE three lords attending upon the king
PRINCESS OF FRANCE
ROSALINE, MARIA, AND KATHARINE ladies attending upon the princess
DON ADRIANO DE ARMADO a fantastical Spaniard
MOTH his swain (his servant)
JAQUENETTA a country wench
BINGHAM SIGNATURE SHAKESPEARE
Actors Theatre’s production of
Love’s Labour’s Lost is part
of Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the
National Endowment for the Arts
in partnership with Arts Midwest.
At its core, what do you think is the story of Love’s Labour’s Lost?
NATHAN KEEPERS Really simply, I think it’s about love and falling in love. What we want to do is just magnify that in the way that Shakespeare can.
STEVE EPP In our version, you see every conjugation of love. You get animal desire. You get the highborn, aristocratic kind of political love. You get a middle-aged, reluctant love, the lovers who are cynical but are ultimately deeply in love. You get innocent love at first sight. And you’ve got peasanty, lusty love. So between all the couples, we’re able to navigate all those different ways that people fall in and out of love.
DOMINIQUE SERRAND The basic premise of the war ending between Navarre and France is really the key to the beginning of the play. The men have made this pact, this vow of not approaching a woman. We look at that moment of rest after the war, a moment of rethinking and repositioning. And then the women come.
SE It’s love coming out of war, the end of war giving way to peace. That allows everyone’s heart to crack open.
How will your production differ from a more traditional staging?
DS You know, the play is not considered one of Shakespeare’s greatest. But it contains some beautiful gems in terms of language and characters. So we took the liberty to add lovers from other Shakespeare plays.
NK In Love’s Labour’s Lost, you have these pairs of lovers, these archetypes that we see in Shakespeare. There’s a pair that’s like Henry and Kate. There’s the
Beatrice and Benedick types. There’s the Miranda and Ferdinand-slash-Romeo and Juliet couple. Then there’s a fourth pair, which, at least in our version, embody a more physical/magical representation of falling in love.
Our work is always physical, but we try to keep it really simple in terms of stuff. You know, you don’t need a lot; Shakespeare’s language sort of does it all. It’s about creating the right space, trying to find the physical life of the show.
Really simply, I think it’s about love and falling in love. What we want to do is just magnify that in the way that Shakespeare can.
LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST:A CONVERSATION WITH THE CREATIVE TEAMThe self-proclaimed King of Navarre has just lost a war of secession against the King of France. Battle-weary, Navarre and his three warriors swear an oath to study, fast, and above all, renounce the company of women. But when the Princess of France arrives to conclude the peace treaty—with three warriors of her own—they’re all thrown together while awaiting paperwork, and this quartet of perfectly paired couples proceed with the messy business of falling in love. As romance pervades the camp, another strange trio of lovers emerges: Armado, a fantastical Spaniard; Moth, his swain; and Jaquenetta, a country wench. That, more or less, is the story of Love’s Labour’s Lost, one of Shakespeare’s most delightful comedic confections.
This fall, three innovative artists have reimagined the classic, incorporating text from all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays to breathe new life into this romantic romp. The trio behind the production—Steve Epp, Nathan Keepers, and Dominique Serrand of Minneapolis-based ensemble The Moving Company—are no strangers to Louisville audiences. In 2004, as members of the Tony Award-winning Theatre de la Jeune Lune, they brought a profane and hilarious production of Molière’s The Miser to Actors Theatre. In the 2010 Humana Festival, they were part of the artistic collective responsible for Fissures (lost and found), a dreamlike meditation on memory. As they prepared to return to Kentucky, the three re-imaginers took the time to talk about their inventive approach to Shakespeare.
SE We’re always looking for the honesty of the stage, which is different than psychological honesty or realism. We try to find that openness and transparency that comes with two actors encountering each other in a theatrical space. Shakespeare’s so great for this kind of approach, because it’s poetry on stage, and it’s emotion personified.
How did you arrive at the idea to use other Shakespeare texts in Love’s Labour’s Lost?
SE Well, we were going to produce this piece in the fall of 2008 at Jeune Lune.
DS We never did it, of course, because the theatre closed. But the original idea was to take one of his plays and create a piece about love. We’ve done lots of work on hypocrisy and war and mean characters, and moments of history that have been really sad, and we felt we should do a play that’s about love.
NK The bones of Love’s Labour’s Lost are great—the structure of the paired-off lovers, and the little story of Armado and Jaquenetta. We decided to use those seeds as the jumping-off point to delve back into the other Shakespeares and create this sort of love letter, if you will. And to see how the language can play for different characters—to give a clown the chance to say something that Juliet would normally say.
SE In a lot of our work, when we’re writing or creating something new, we look at Shakespeare as an inspiration. Sometimes we even go back and almost paraphrase particular scenes or riff on them, as a way to get at an idea. Now we can mine all these beautiful moments. Because we’ll never get around to producing all the Shakespeares. This is a way to have a smorgasbord of all the great stuff we always wanted to do.
DS It’s astounding how much Shakespeare copies himself. How he created characters in this early play that we find more developed in other, later plays.
SE The way we’re working is actually in the spirit of how Shakespeare wrote. He constantly stole from himself. And from everybody else. Most every great writer does, and every great little theatre ensemble. You can feel the sense of the company he was with. You can feel the immediacy of his creative process: “We need this show tomorrow night because the Queen’s coming.” It’s thrilling.
NK You know, we think of everything as an event. We want it to be a spectacle, a visual feast for the audience. Both physically, in that there’s a lot of movement, but also in the stillness, the pictures that are made. There’ll be an accumulation, so that by the end, people will walk out and say, “I’ve never seen anything like that before.” I hope audiences get excited that they’re going to see a fresh take on Shakespeare.
—Interview by Steve Moulds, with introductory material from Lezlie Cross
Nathan Keepers and Steve Epp in The Miser, 2004. Photo by Harlan Taylor.
We decided to use those seeds as the jumping-off point to delve back into the other Shakespeares and create this sort of love letter, if you will.
The three re-imaginers in previous Actors Theatre appearances, clockwise from top: Steve Epp in The Miser, 2004. Photo by Harlan Taylor. Nathan Keepers in Noises Off, 2013. Photo by Bill Brymer. Dominique Serrand in Fissures (lost and found) in the 2010 Humana Festival. photo by Harlan Taylor.
In Love’s Labour’s Lost, the King of Navarre and his men vow not to speak to women for three years in order to improve themselves through fasting and studying. However, once the Princess of France and her ladies arrive on a diplomatic mission from France, the men find it very difficult to keep their promise. Since Love’s Labour’s Lost is a comedy, romance overpowers their resolve, and all the men and women fall in love.
Like the King of Navarre and his lords, we sometimes create lofty self-improvement goals with extreme conditions and goals. For example, goals such as giving up sugar and exercising or meditating every day are often quickly abandoned because they are too challenging.
What is something you would like to improve about yourself? Would you like to be a better reader? Be able to run longer? Be able to get up earlier? Come up with a plan you think you can stick to, and try it for a week. Write about what works for you, or doesn’t, and why. Is your experience like that of the King of Navarre? Or are you able to commit to your goal?
Love’s Labour’s Lost begins with the King of Navarre and his men vowing to shun the company of women for three years to fast and study. Do you think this is a reasonable promise to make? Why or why not? What are some complications that could arise from the King’s position that would make it difficult to keep such an oath?
Write a review of the performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost that you saw at Actors Theatre of Louisville. What parts of the play (the actors’ performances, the set, props, costumes, lighting and sound design, etc.) were your favorites and why? How effective were these elements in telling the story? Back up your claims with evidence and details from your experience of watching the performance. Then, make a copy and send it to the education department at:
Actors Theatre of Louisville c/o Jane B. Jones316 West Main StreetLouisville, Kentucky 40202
We will share your thoughts with the creative team.
AT YOUR DESK
1. The Moving Company is a group of theatre artists interested in fresh approaches to classic works. As such, their reimagined script of Love’s Labour’s Lost incorporates dialogue from several of Shakespeare’s most famous romantic couples. Although this impacts how the story is told, it does not change the essential through-line of the original play. Try applying this approach to your own favorite love story. Replace the main couple with a different couple from another story. What happens to the original story? Try to keep the same plot, but allow the characters to behave as they would in their own tale. What if you replace Hermione and Ron from Harry Potter with Jasmine and Aladdin from Aladdin? Or Jack and Rose from Titanic with Katniss and Peeta from The Hunger Games?
2. In Shakespeare’s day, love poems utilized wit and humor in order to prove a suitor’s wit and intelligence. Several of the men in Love’s Labour’s Lost write love poems to the women they wish to woo. However, a messenger accidentally mixes up the delivery, and the women are confused and upset by receiving the wrong letters. Have students write a witty, rhyming description of themselves. Redistribute the descriptions to other students and see if they can figure out whose descriptions they have.
AWAY FROM YOUR DESK
1. Most of Shakespeare’s plays, even the tragedies, have a clown character for comic relief. These clowns are not the red-nosed, big-shoed, tiny-car types, but more like buffoons who unwittingly get into ridiculous situations (think characters portrayed by Adam Sandler, Chris Farley or Zach Galifianakis). In Love’s Labour’s Lost, Moth (a clown) accidentally delivers love letters to the wrong recipients, resulting in some hilarious mixed messages. In small groups, discuss how a clown character might go about mixing up love letters. What does the scenario look like? Define the setting, the characters and the situation. Then, based on your discussion, try improvising short scenes where one student is the clown and miscommunicates a message to the other students. Remember to determine a location, clear roles for the other characters, and what the message was originally intended to mean.
2. As the King of Navarre, his lords, and the Princess and her ladies remind us, public vows can make you vulnerable to attack. In small groups, brainstorm a variety of things it would be very hard to do without — things you are personally devoted to (for example, Dr. Who, video games or caffeine). Choose one of these items and imagine what it would take to avoid it. Improvise a scene in which one of you vows to swear off flamin’ hot fries, for example, while the rest of you try to make the flamin’-hot-fry-lover break that vow. What would it take to get you to take a bite? What strategies and tactics are at play? Which ones are most successful, and why?
1. Most comedies have a happy ending. However, the title Love’s Labour’s Lost implies that this comedy will not have a traditional ending. Based on the title and what you know about the play, can you imagine possibilities for how it may end?
2. Shakespearean language is more poetic and uses a different rhythm than contemporary language. These differences can sometimes make Shakespeare’s plays challenging for modern audiences to understand. Think of the first time you listen to a new song. You might get the gist but not all the specific lyrics. Consider why it is that you get hooked on a new song, movie or TV show: Is it knowing what the song is about? Who the characters are? How the story will turn out? What attracts you to something new? What do you think you will need to know about Love’s Labour’s Lost to enjoy this production? Work with your classroom teacher to find out this information ahead of time so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!
1. The ending of Love’s Labour’s Lost takes a surprising turn when the Princess and her ladies are called back to France. Why do you think the Princess and her ladies asked the men to wait a year before coming to marry them? Is there anything in the men’s behavior that would cause the women to believe they might not follow through on their promise?
2. Shakespeare is believed to have written a lost script for a sequel titled Love’s Labour’s Won. Based on your experience of the show, what do you think the plot of Love’s Labour’s Won would be?