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Communique: Marino's Adaptation Of "Measure for Measure" Uses Shakespearean Insights To Critique HB2

Christopher Marino at Sputnik, discussing show with cast members

The Shakespearean canon seems to address the entire spectrum of human foible and fallibility. Modern audiences continue to find meaning in the work to address humankind's existential struggle. Christopher Marino, a Shakespeare scholar, director, and actor, recently went to the Bard for assistance in a critique of North Carolina's HB2 law (the "Bathroom Bill"). Marino adapted Measure for Measure to express his interpretation of the legislation as a parallel to the hypocrisy and abuse of puritanical power in this 400-year old work.  

Aside from an impressive cast of local actors (Hannah Elizabeth Smith, Christy Grantham, Amanda Goodyear, Brenden Carter, Marino himself-and more), Marino brought in guest artists, including Fred Grandy (Gopher from The Love Boat), Fletcher McTaggart (Broadway's Leap of Faith), and comedian Ashley Strand.  Live music accompanies the performance, written and performed by Adrian Varnam and Cole Marquis.  

Measure for Measure. Downtown Wilmington @ Sputnik (enter at "KGB," Front & Princess Streets). June 23, 24, 25, 30, July 1, 2 (Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays), 7:30 pm

While Measure for Measure is a comedy, it is a dark comedy rooted in serious themes-mercy, virtue, abuse of power, and hypocrisy. Below, listen to Marino discuss how he adapted it and his intention for audiences. A second sound selection is a Web Extra, featuring Marino's overview of the plot. Finally, read Marino's brief summary of the play (always good prep for any Shakespeare viewing). 

Tickets are available online or at the door. The show is staged at Sputnik in downtown Wilmington, with entry through KGB at 16 Princess Street (corner of Front & Princess Streets).  

WEB EXTRA focused on plot overview

Arianna Tysinger plays a Drag King in "Measure for Measure"

Summary from Christopher Marino:

Measure for Measure centers on the hypocrisy of strict religious belief, and "the dichotomy between corruption and purity." This is a play about the morality of the few governing the lives of many.

We have changed the location to North Carolina in an unspecified future-sadly could only be a few years away. In the original, Angelo (an overly zealous judge) re-establishes an ancient sex crime law; anyone in violation will be put to death.

Our version will keep much of the original, but have the law target the LGBT community. Claudio, who in the original is arrested for sex with "Juliet," will now be arrested for sex with a man, "Julian." Isabella [Claudio's sister] appeals to Angelo to spare her brother, only to fall victim to Angelo's lust and eventual attempted sexual assault. When she threatens to out him, he tells her no one will believe her because he is a man of high moral authority. The parallels in light of lawmakers recently being arrested for sexual misconduct are too chilling.

The rest of the play concerns the owner and patrons of a brothel which is being threatened with closure. In our version, it will be an LGBT club run by a drag MC called in the play "Mistress Over-done."