Hannah Leone of The Oregonian gives us a great preview for our world premiere adaptation of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost! Check it out online.
‘Cool gem of history’ found in Bag&Baggage’s ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’
By Hannah Leone | firstname.lastname@example.org
Sometimes, Bag&Baggage Productions’ artistic director Scott Palmer doesn’t know exactly what he’s looking for right away. He didn’t when he embarked on a literary journey to find an adaptive way to tell Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost.”
Palmer started, as usual, by examining a script, in this case, Shakespeare’s. He found the source materials and uncovered what had been altered, cut and added. He searched for who else had done treatments of the script.
The thing about “Love’s Labour’s Lost” is that between 1700 and 1830, no recorded performances exist of the play. It was a huge flop, Palmer said.
But during his research, he came across a book that covered the history of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” through the 1800s. In the book, two sentences mentioned an adaptation an anonymous author had written in 1762 called “The Students.”
Palmer had to find it. He emailed friends at various universities. A friend knew a friend who knew the work. A PDF of the original script made its way to Palmer’s inbox.
“It’s like finding gold,” he said. “Something interesting that has never been done before. It’s a cool gem of history.”
“The Students” did away with unnecessary complexities, dense language, and a host of other problems that prevented Shakespeare’s rendition from succeeding, Palmer said. It was shorter and bawdier. Palmer noted what worked and what didn’t.
Then he used what he found as a starting point for his own version of the story in the “La Dolce Vita” style of the 1960s, the first rendition of “The Students” to ever be performed, which will run Thursday through Saturday, July 24 to Aug. 9, outdoors at Hillsboro’s Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza. Tickets for the production are available now.
The Bag&Baggage version has a cast of 10 characters, two fewer than “The Students” and 10 fewer than Shakespeare’s, Palmer says. Palmer’s cast has the same three group divisions, though: The princess of France and two of her ladies paired with the king of Navarre and two of his friends, three commoners who serve as comics, and Lord Boyet, attendant to the princess, who gives an outsider’s perspective that relates most closely to the audience.
Some of the original characters were boring, so Palmer whittled it down into roles he thinks are more interesting.
This is what major literary adaptions are about, Palmer said. Adaptive theater is not about translating classical works into modern settings; it’s not about using guns instead of swords or changing up the slang characters use.
While Palmer sometimes alters female characters in order to portray them as strong, smart women, the roles in “Love’s Labour’s Lost” were already cut out that way, Palmer said.
“All the women are just as smart, funny sexy and sassy as all (Shakespeare’s) male leads,” Palmer said.
Palmer based the Bag&Baggage version of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” more heavily on “The Students,” but kept Shakespeare’s ending.
The ending is actor Dallas Meyers’ favorite part. But it’s better kept a surprise, he said. Meyers, who teaches theater arts at McNary High School in Keizer by day, plays Lord Boyet. The role is a good fit for him because, like a teacher, Boyet is an observer, he said.
The cast had its first off-book, no line-call rehearsal Wednesday night, July 9, and it went far better than the first of these rehearsals usually go, Palmer said.
By the 24th, he is confident the cast will be ready to perform “Love’s Labour Lost” the way Shakespeare was meant to be performed: Outdoors, where the stage doesn’t end and there’s something magical about being immersed in a live performance, he said.
“Love’s Labour’s Lost” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, July 24 through Aug. 9, outdoors at the Civic Center Plaza, 150 E. Main St., in downtown Hillsboro. Tickets: $18. Palmer recommends bringing a blanket or seat.