We are currently in rehearsal for Romeo and Juliet, Troilus and Cressida, and Antony and Cleopatra. Now you may be wondering a few things:
Isn't that crazy ambitious?
Yes, yes it is. In fact because it is such a large scale project we are workshopping the three plays in advance of producing them.
Where did the idea come from?
The idea of doing the three tragedies named after legendary couples has been kicking around in my brain for a very long time. I think it started with reading the three essays in Marjorie Garber's Shakespeare After All on the three plays while researching Troilus and Cressida. Garber draws wonderful comparisons and the idea of experiencing that discourse through rehearsal and performance was deeply attractive. Next I saw the brilliant Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and felt emboldened by that kind of daring exploration of structure. While repertory is less of a departure from the tradition of Shakespeare in performance than an inter-splicing would be I feel that doing the three plays in repertory and on their own is a prerequisite for that kind of exercise, so who knows maybe there is a Juliet/Cressida/Cleopatra in my future. For now though the Lover's Project is a full production of each of these romantic tragedies.
The three plays are magnificent in terms of language and character and share numerous structural similarities: a marriage scene, a morning after scene, a lover torn away by the surrounding struggle. Here are the three plays in 3 panels courtesy of My Gosling at Good Tickle Brain.
Romeo and Juliet or the one everyone knows. There may not be a war but there are two households that disturb the quiet of Verona streets with brawls that occasionally escalate to the point of a body count.
Troilus and Cressida or the one almost no one has seen. There is a war, the most famous war of all time as the Greeks and Trojans battle between feasting and intermarrying. Troilus and Cressida both make it out of Shakespeare's play alive (unlike the other lovers) though her reality in particular is horrifying.
Antony and Cleopatra or the one in which the course of history is changed. There are wars with battles both by sea and land. There is something triumphant in their end - even if Octavius gets a kingdom for a consolation prize.