In the world of theater, collaboration is the name of the game. The director, costume designer, lighting designer, technical director and actors of “Love’s Labour’s Lost ” have been working together for months to get the production ready for audiences.
The School of Theatre will perform one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known comedies beginning with previews at 7:30 tonight and Feb. 14 in the Pavilion Theatre . Regular evening performances will run Feb 15-23, excluding Sunday, with a 2 p.m. performance on Feb. 23.
Ed Stern , who was the artistic director of the Tony-nominated Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park for 20 years before leaving last June, directs the play. He called the piece a “stunning choice,” that is rarely produced.
“A lot of people sort of wrote off the play as an early work of [Shakespeare’s] that wasn’t really the mature work of his,” Stern said.
Stern said that the play is very college-appropriate.
“I think audiences are going to be really surprised about how open it is, how understandable it is and how funny and touching it is,” Stern said.
Location, location, location
The Pavilion Theatre is either an asset or an obstacle to production, depending upon whom you ask.
According to Stern, the theater lends itself well to audience interaction, a feature Shakespeare liked to use.
“We’re going to be using the audience a lot,” Stern said. “If one of the actors has a hat, and she doesn’t need it, she’s going to ask someone in the audience to hold it.”
For lighting designer Ryan Stanger , the small theater has provided some challenges.
Stanger (senior- design and technology) said that the low height of the space affected which lighting equipment he could use.
“Your angles can’t go too deep because if you go too low with the lights, you’re hitting audience members,” Stanger said.
Do your homework
As any high school student who has struggled through a unit on Macbeth knows, it takes a lot of work to really get Shakespeare. To pull off an authentic reproduction of the Bard’s work, the actors had to do a lot of studying.
Actor Brandon Carter , who plays Berowne , found information about an actual man on whom his character was based, he said.
“I researched his relationship with the king, and how he let the real Berowne get away with all of the things he does and how that relates to the play,” Carter (graduate-acting) said.
Stern said that the actors were “wonderfully prepared” to tackle one of Shakespeare’s plays.
Their work with voice coaches and understanding of the material was evident, he added.
“The nice thing about that work and study is then in rehearsal they can let it go and afford to be silly,” Stern said.
Dressing the part
Costume designer Lindsey Eastman looked at photographs, illustrations and fashion plates from the 1910s for inspiration, she said.
Eastman (graduate–costume design) said that costumes help to define the characters.
“There are four romantic couples in the play, and it is important that we make it clear who goes with whom,” Eastman said.
She gave each couple outfits that don’t necessarily match, but coordinate, “like prom couples,” Eastman said.
There are seven clowns in the play, but each has a distinct personality, Eastman said.
“I had to make them different from each other and funny, but make them fit into what I designed for the upper class characters,” Eastman said.
Bringing it all together
For a play to work as a whole, all of the little pieces need to fit together seamlessly, which makes people like Dana Landis , the associate technical director, so important.
Landis (sophomore-design and technology) acts as a translator between the set designer and carpenters, she said.
“What we do is take the set designer’s drawings and make them buildable –– we put them in the language of carpenters so they can actually build the sets,” Landis said.
Stanger also realizes the importance of working with people involved in various facets of production.
“As a lighting designer, you work heavily with the scenic designer and the costume designer to provide the vision that they want to have on stage,” Stanger said. “I can’t go too crazy in regards to saturated colors because there might be very pale scenery or costumes.”
In turn, Eastman has to make sure that the costumes work with the actors.
“In the process, things change from the final designs and become real garments rather than a drawing of a garment,” Eastman said. “We make choices based on the actors, their body types and the movements that they do.”
The hard work put in by the entire production team and acting company hopefully comes together in the end, Eastman said.
“It’s a process of tweaking and tweaking until everything is just right, and then hopefully, on opening night, everything is perfect.”