Friday, November 30, 2007

MEASURE FOR MEASURE by William Shakespeare

The Book: William Shakespeare, MEASURE FOR MEASURE. Penguin Books paperback reprint (Pelican Shakespeare edition), 1976. Good condition; previous owners' signatures inside front cover ("Ellen Lamb," with my old phone number), and on front flyleaf ("Ann Haskins"); notes from a philosophy class (not mine) written inside back cover. Budget calculations (mine) written on a blank endpaper.
First read: 1980 (approximately)
Owned since: 1985

I bought this book used, but don't remember where; it was the copy I used when I produced the show that John Erath directed for Mask & Bauble in the fall of 1985. That production was a good time and a good show, and I still remember most of the "Measure for Measure" rap created by (now) Dr. Anthony Liguori and some other cast members -- Tony, if you can fill in the missing lines and give credit to your co-author, I'd be grateful:

Measure for Measure, there's a lot to measure
So take out your ruler and start to do the measure
We've got the Duke, and Angelo,
[Somebody] and Claudio,
We've even got the Lucio
And Mistress Overdone the Ho
[beat boxing]

A hip-hop version of Measure for Measure might be kind of fun, actually. It's one of Shakespeare's "problem plays," not a tragedy but too cruel to be a true comedy, and viciously misogynistic by some lights.

Angelo, appointed by Duke Vincenzo as temporary ruler of Vienna, imposes a city-wide rule of chastity. Claudio gets his fiancee, Juliet, pregnant, and is condemned to death for it. Claudio's sister Isabella, about to become a nun, petitions Angelo for Claudio's life; Angelo says he'll consider it if Isabella will surrender her virginity to him. The plot thickens from there, as they do.

I like the play, and think it has some sharp insights for modern audiences about the hypocrisy of governments and the futility of legislating private morality.

This time of year is usually kind of slow for me; this year I have overcompensated by taking on an absurd number of projects, and am flying to California tonight just for the weekend. I'll be drinking a lot of coffee for the next several days, I think.

What I Read This Week

Michael Harvey, The Chicago Way. This first novel is a modern homage to Raymond Chandler, set in Chicago, and quite entertaining. PI Michael Kelly agrees to help his former partner get to the bottom of an old, unsolved rape case, but is soon investigating his ex-partner's violent death.

Erica Spindler, The Last Known Victim. I have not read Spindler's earlier books featuring an extended family of New Orleans police officers, so much of the "relationship stuff" in this book bored me and slowed the book down. Otherwise, it's an entertaining thriller about a serial killer who calls himself The Artist, stalking exotic dancers in post-Katrina New Orleans.


Anonymous said...

A friend of mine wrote her senior essay on Measure for Measure with a healthy of Machiavelli and perhaps a bit of Leo Strauss. It was a long essay.


AnswerGirl said...

Tony reports that the co-author of that fine work of poetry was Professor Matthew Marafino, now teaching at Alleghany College of Maryland. And these are the exact words:

Measure for Measure
And there's a lot to measure
So get out your ruler
And start to do the measure

We've got the Duke, and Claudio,
Escalus, and Angelo
We've even got the Lucio
And Mistress Overdone the Ho

(Repeat Chorus)
(beat boxing)

Thanks, Tony!