Loves Labors Lost

Love’s Labor’s Lost My paper report came a bit late but I was extremely exited to go. I got to watch “Love’s Labor’s Lost” preformed by the drama department in Juilliard School in Manhattan. I went alone and got through on a waiting list. I never read the play and had no idea what to expect. It turns out that a play is much easier to understand if you are watching people act it out on stage than if you are reading it from a script. And that play was meant to be watched.

It was full of obscure jokes, and strange language which is relevant to the times when it was written but does not seem to make sense to the modern reader. The actor’s body language, the expression on their faces and the general movement on stage tells the story almost independently of the written play. In other word’s how the actors say their lines matter as much as what they are saying. I understood why a play is supposed to be seen on stage rather than read in a classroom. The first thing to note about the production was that it was moved out of its time frame.

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The original play takes place somewhere in Shakespearean times in Europe. This version puts the actors in modern clothing. The are portrayed as school children at play more than adults. The whole play tied into the theme of Cupid and the futility of attempting to resist love. Everything is about movement and it seems almost as a ballet or an elaborate dance production.

The opening act starts with four young men (Navarre, Berowne, Longaville, and Dumain) making an absurd pact to dedicate 3 years to studying and abstain from women’s company and all other “earthly delights”. On stage these men seem more like children. They are wearing school boy’s clothing and brandish wooden swords to make a pact. In the middle of the stage in a little school house with a classroom inside. The foursome is carrying book bags and speak in exaggerated tones.

The colors are very vibrant and lively, giving the stage more movement and a feeling of light spirit. Once the four have made their vows, Cupid will have his revenge. He finds his servant in the form of Costard the clown who in the production appears as a “spanish ghetto” joker in baggy jeans and a lot of very colorful shirts. The play is full of sexual innuendoes, heavy flirting and even a few rap numbers. I have never hears Shakespeare being raped before but it seemed to have a good beat to it.

In the second movement we are introduced to the four ladies of the play: Rosaline, Maria, Katharine, and the Princess of France). They are dressed as teenage girls with a risky fashion sense. Their characters are very distinct with one representing a nerd, one a sports jock one a flirt and the Princess a strong independent woman. The ladies are ready for a warm reception but Navarre, being true to his pact, refuses to let them in. Thus they are ready to aid Cupid in his revenge against the arrogant men who thought to ignore his arrows.

Here each actor seems a clown with a lot of overplaying. Each motion is bright and obvious, giving the viewer as much help as possible with the understanding of the play. The music is live and very sad contrasting what happens on stage. It prepares the audience for the inevitable tragic ending of the play and tones down the flashy acting. Soon all the boys break their oath and fall in love with the young women and the clever and sharp flirting begins.

What the play lacks in clarity of words it makes up in the expression on the actor’s faces. Boyet is interestingly enough portrayed as a wild bisexual, Armado is showing homosexual tendencies as well. That makes the play more “fun” for the modern viewer and brings the jokes down to the level where they can be appreciated more by the audience. The actors were all young students of the school but their skills were not equal. Costard took the audience by storm by being what he was supposed to be – a clown. I forgave the rude gestures, the wild movement on stage and the strange rap number because it was in the character. The performer was not inhibited and felt at home doing anything on the stage. Surprisingly the character of King Navarre seemed bleak and flat, getting lost in others.

I am not sure what is written for Navarre in the play but it seems the actor lacked passion and failed to convince me in the love scenes. The only good part was the “renewal of the oath” scene where his dialogue was light and clever. Outstanding was Berowne’s performance, the actor went all out and was almost too real to watch. He was funny when he had to be, the monologues came out clear and easy, and the more serious lines were said with passion but not overplayed. He made the audience share his point of view, he carried the mood through and you can see how hard he was working by the sweat on his face.

The female characters were less notable and largely overplayed. The seem to have been reduced to the cliche of “the nerd”, “the jock”, “the flirt”, and “the Princess”. The were useful in carrying through the plot but were not a pleasure to watch. Only the hunting scene raised my interest. I am very glad that I had the opportunity to attend this play and see it performed live right before my eyes.

I never knew how exiting and entertaining it can be. Actors create a connection with the viewer, and their performance is effected by the mood and the reception of the audience. I was sitting in the first row and felt almost like the entire play was being acted out for me alone. And I am sure that everyone around me had the same feeling. The alteration to the settings, the costumes, the songs, and the occasional phrase that was added by the actors themselves (like “Oh, baby”) was justified by the overwhelming response of the audience.

If you ignore the strange jokes and obscure lines and see this play as a lightheaded comedy it is a pleasure to watch.

Love’s Labor’s Lost

Love`s Labor`s LostIn Loves Labors Lost by William Shakespeare, King Ferdinand and his three
attendants; Berowne, Longaville, and Dumaine, take a vow to swear off women and
concentrate on their studies. This vow only lasted long enough for each man to
lay his eyes on the Princess of France, Rosaline, Maria, and Katherine. The
women receive love letters and gifts from the men who are trying to woo them.

Although the ladies are flattered, they are disappointed by their loves
abilities to easily breaks their vows. Throughout the play, the men try to woo
the ladies with out ever really interacting with them because they are ashamed
of the breaking of their vows too. The men decide that they will woo once and
for all at the masquerade that they will all be attending. The women, on the
other hand, have a completely different idea of what the masquerade will
determine. The women wear masks and plan on embarrassing the men, who are
dressed as Russians, by not revealing their true identity. They can not believe
the deceitful nature of the men and plan on teaching them a lesson. The princess
says, Therefore I do it, and I make no doubt/ The rest will neer come
in, if he be out./ Theres no such sport as sport by sport oerthrown,/ To
make theirs ours and none but our own;/ So shall we stay; mocking intended
game,/ And they, will mockd, depart away with shame. (237; V, ii l.

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151-156). The masks that the women are wearing symbolize how they have hid their
anger and frustration toward the men. They had never expressed their disgust
with them prior to the masquerade and feel it necessary to show the men how
foolish they have been for breaking their promises. The masks also show that the
women were afraid to let their true feeling surface. A mask is a cover;
therefore they have been covering up their inner thoughts and feelings about the
mens actions. It is hard for them to show the men their disappointment
because they too are in love and feel that they truly are suitable lovers.

However, they need their opinions to be expressed and appreciated. The plan
works perfectly. Each man can only recognize his loved one by the jewelry that
she is wearing, and since the ladies switched presents in order to play their
parts, the men woo the wrong lady. The King woos Rosaline, Berowne woos the
Princess, Dumaine woos Maria, and Longaville woos Katherine. The men were trying
to be sweet to each lady, while the ladies were being rude and thoroughly
confusing the men. The King approaches Rosaline by saying, Blessed are the
clouds, to do as such clouds do!/ Vouchsafe, bright moon, and these thy stars,
to/ shine/ (Those clouds removed) upon our watery eyne. (237; V, ii l.

203-206). Rosaline, pretending to be the Princess, replies, O vain
petitioner! beg a greater matter,/ Thou now requests but moonshine in the
water. (237; V,ii l. 207-208). Berowne, trying to impress Rosaline,
approaches the Princess and says, White-handed mistress, one sweet work with/
thee. (238; V,ii l. 229-230). The Princess comments, Honey, and milk, and
sugar: there is three. (238;V,ii l. 231). Mistaking Maria for Katherine,
Dumaine states, Fair lady – (238; V, ii l. 237). Maria remarks, Say
you so? Fair lord-/ Take that for your fair lady. (238; V,ii l. 238-239). The
masks proved that the men did not really know the ladies at all, and in reality
were only in love with the beauty that was portrayed on the outside. Even though
the four women are set on speaking their minds, they are beginning to have some
doubts about embarrassing the men. They are afraid to continue pretending to be
each other when the men return without their Russian costumes. The princess
says, What shall we do,/ If they return in their own shapes to woo? (239;
V,ii l. 298-299). Even though the women have not fully convinced themselves that
making fools of the men is the right way to make them learn their lessons.


Shakespeare

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