Raskin, who says he now has “a clean bill of health,” was already considering adapting “Measure for Measure,” loaded as it is with intriguing material. “In the bare skeleton of the story, you’ve got political corruption, judicial corruption, sexual harassment, abuse of power and the death penalty,” he said. Raskin knew Minton already (Raskin’s children participated in Lumina productions) and had told Minton to reach out if he ever did a production of “Measure for Measure.” Though he’d enjoyed writing one-act plays in high school and college, Raskin hadn’t done any professional dramatic writing until this year.
Lumina’s adaptation lifts one of Shakespeare’s problem plays out of its original setting in Vienna and drops it into the Middle East.
“The play fits what’s going on in the Middle East very well,” said Minton, “that region of the world where women have been traditionally repressed . . . so in some ways, our ‘Measure for Measure’ is a feminist parable.”
The actors, all teenagers, are predominately female, so many roles of male authority are, in this iteration, female authorities.
And, Raskin pointed out, the women are not as weak as they may appear. “Shakespeare endowed the female characters with secrets and quiet powers of their own.”
“I’m very much a feminist and always have been,” said Minton. “I’m always looking for ways to find, in traditional scripts, [how we] maybe can think about these things differently.”
The teenage cast, Raskin said, has not failed to impress. “These kids are awesomely precocious. It’s scary to see what they can do.” But, he added, there are still some very teenage moments. “You can have two kids playing the lead roles, engaged in an incredibly serious exchange of harsh views and deep moral reflection. And then they are unable to hold hands afterwards because they get giggly about it.
“They’re actually capable of doing extremely sophisticated, dramatic analysis and very subtle acting. But if two actors have to exchange a kiss, it’s a full-blown crisis.”
Friday through Sunday at Round House Theatre, 8641 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. www.luminastudio.org. 301-565-2281.
In the Rothko Room
Edward Gero, who plays abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko in “Red,” has been, unsurprisingly, thinking a lot about the way we study art.
“We tend to look at art and say ‘It’s pretty’ or ‘There’s a story there,’ ” Gero said. “But Rothko was hoping to have something contemplative. He wanted you to sit with it. To see the layers of the painting. . . . To immerse in the work.”
So Gero did exactly that. He went to the Phillips Collection. and sat in the Rothko Room. He read the part of the play in which Rothko instructs his assistant on how to look at paintings. He read it aloud, to the paintings, and then he followed the guidelines. For three hours.