Power, sex, consent, double standards in leadership -all the themes are as current now as ever in The Old Globe and University of San Diego Shiley’s Graduate Theatre Program’s production of MEASURE FOR MEASURE by William Shakespeare. Directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg, the cast talks about their experience working on the play, which is playing through November 20th.
Madeline Grace Jones, Sarah Joyce, Jeffrey Rashad, and Michael Underhill all play key characters in the show but took the time from their performance schedule to chat a bit about this play and working with their Director Delicia Turner Sonnenberg.
The play is a mix of comedy and drama as it follows Isabella (Sarah Joyce) a novice nun who is trying to save her brother Claudio (Jeffrey Rashad) with the help of Claudio’s lothario friend Lucio (Madeline Grace Jones). Claudio is being held by the villainous Angelo (Michael Underhill) and has been sentenced to death. In exchange for her brother’s freedom, Angelo presents Isabella with a scandalous proposition and then fails to hold up the end of his bargain.
Lies, hidden identities, truth versus honesty, and debates on morality – the show touches on many topics that are also major themes in our recent political elections, which means they can’t get any more current or relevant. The cast says that the continuing relevancy of Shakespeare’s work, and presenting it for the audience to experience is part of the magic of getting to work on this piece.
“The biggest theme for me in the show is what is exactly deemed right and wrong and what it means to have consent in the 1600s compared to the 1980s compared to 2022. I think the artists and crew are made of intersectionalities to race, gender, sexuality, and class, and I think that really shows what it means to be a HUMAN BE-ing existing in this world of storytelling.” – Madeline Grace Jones
“It’s always jarring to tackle and explore issues that are so prevalent in society today. You never know if an audience is willing or able to confront their own traumas or experiences in hopes that open wounds may be healed. My job is to Tackle the machine from the inside; to do the investigative work to discover the true Essence of a thing or experience and hold it up as a mirror.” – Jeffrey Rashad
“Despite Shakespeare writing over four centuries ago, he had an innate ability to bring the human condition onto the page, so that actors can then in turn bring those internal struggles to the stage for a contemporary audience. Despite the advances in technology and medicine in a shrinking world, we still have very similar questions of the soul. How do we react when our heart tells us something different than our head has learned to be “right” and “true”? When we are pushed to the extreme limits of life and death, do we trust our instincts or the strictures of the law/morality? ” – Michael Underhill
Director Delicia Turner Sonnenberg is a powerhouse director, whose work has graced San Diego stages challenging and entertaining audiences for years. The cast says that working with her is a formative experience that has only made them better performers.
“Whew…Delicia is a badass! I had the pleasure of working with her on DETROIT 67; this was during lockdown over Zoom, so the first time I saw her in person during auditions for this was a surprise…I didn’t realize this powerhouse of a woman was actually 5 feet tall!
She teaches us important lessons every day with how she leads; she is strong, she is direct, she is a mother, she is warm, and she is loving. She wants us to be great and she will accept nothing less. I always come out of Delicia’s shows a stronger artist, and I’m so grateful for that.” Sarah Joyce
“Delicia is one of those directors who’s going to give it to you straight. She is going to challenge you. She is going to push you towards operating at your full potential. I think a major part of the success of this show is that drive, that push towards the mark of excellence.” – Jeffrey Rashad
“Working with Delicia was definitely an experience to remember. I hadn’t really been able to work with a Black woman director before, let alone on Shakespearean text. Her vision of capturing what is “thrilling” in this story in these people’s lives was something I really took away. It’s not just our story but the story of the people. It’s how you tell Shakespeare that makes me connect. I’m glad I gained a lifelong mentor in this process.” -Madeline Grace Jones
“Delicia is an incredibly smart and perceptive director who trusts her vision. She was always willing to let us try out new ideas, as long as we were willing to let that road go both ways.” – Michael Underhill
It’s not an interview about a Shakespeare piece without asking for a favorite quote. Madeline Grace Jones chose a quote from their character and in a lovely turn of events, Michael Underhill chose the same quote along with a shout-out to Jones’ performance.
“There is a quote I really love every night when I hear it during our production. It is from Lucio, who is performed brilliantly and wickedly funny by Madeline Grace Jones. ‘Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.’
It applies to so many scenarios, but specifically, it is a beacon that I have come back to over and over again as I pursue this career in theatre and performance.” – Michael Underhill
While Jeffrey Rashad doesn’t have just one favorite quote, he does offer what he feels is the most impactful line from his character.
“Thus can the demigod Authority
Make us pay down for our offense by weight
The words of heaven; on whom it will, it will;
On whom it will not, so; yet still ’tis just.”
Sarah Joyce has the perfect quote for theatre lovers everywhere.
“Cliche, I admit, but ‘All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players'” – Sarah Joyce
How To Get Tickets
You can see Madeline Grace Jones, Sarah Joyce, Jeffrey Rashad, Michael Underhill, and the rest of the cast of MEASURE FOR MEASURE at The Old Globe‘s Rehearsal Hall in House of Charm through November 20th. For ticket and showtime information go to www.theoldglobe.org
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