Two Gentlemen of Verona is a madcap look at romantic love, friendship and loyalty where the only true love is between man and dog. While symbolizing courtly love, Shakespeare’s devices of letters, pictures and rings torment the noble lovers. Men and women alike, deformed by love, inhabit the shadowy land of the image of love refracted in the heart’s mirror as they gamble their futures in love’s hazardous game. The international cast includes Joost de Muinck Keizer, Laura Rikard, Sage Suppa, Sarah Tucker, Baris Tuncer, Fredric Villano and Rob Welsh.
The third play in Director Artemis Preeshl’s Italian cycle of Shakespeare’s plays in a commedia dell’arte style, Two Gentlemen of Verona extends the company’s goal of applying the Italian comedic style to Shakespeare’s Italian and Roman plays in comic character half masks. Ms. Preeshl began the Italian commedia dell’arte cycle with The Comedy of Errors in 2005. In January 2007, she directed and choreographed in a commedia dell’arte production of The Merchant of Venice at the Sanford Meisner Theater in New York. In April 2008, she will apply the slapstick comedy to Shakespearean text in Twelfth Night in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance at Loyola University New Orleans season.
Commedia dell’arte is an Italian form of comedy springing from a scenario executed through improvisation and lazzi (verbal wordplay and sight gags). Stock characters such as Capitano, the braggart soldier, Pantalone, the greedy, aging merchant, and Arlequino (Harlequin), the slapstick clown, are archetypes that became readily identifiable by their masks. Beginning in 1530, actors toured in continental Europe as potentates invited players to perform at state festivities. That commedia dell’arte was popular during Shakespeare’s period of writing (1585-1611) is evidenced by references to commedia characters: the “lean and slipper’d pantaloon” in As You Like It or the Harlequin-like gravedigger Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, a role which Shakespeare’s early clown, Will Kempe originated. In fact, Kempe’s European touring with the Leicester players during the 1580’s either initiated or enhanced Shakespeare’s knowledge of commedia. The goal of Artemis & The Wild Things is designed to test the extent to commedia dell’arte physical comedy and wordplay influenced performances of Shakespearean text.