The Two Gentlemen of Verona, one of Shakespeare's earliest comedies, tells the story of two friends with differing aspirations. Valentine wants to seek his fortune out in the world, and Proteus wants to stay in Verona and marry the woman he loves. But when Proteus is forced to follow Valentine to Milan, each man finds himself wanting the same woman, turning two gentlemen from best friends to enemies, and turning love from bliss to violence.
"Driven by desire, people change; sometimes beautifully, sometimes not so beautifully," says Sexton.
Rutgers Theater Company has chosen to embrace an aesthetic style inspired by the 1960s films of Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini, who was lauded for his surreal explorations of memory, dreams and fantasy. Sexton says he sees Fellini and Shakespeare as fellow devotees of the magic and dangers of human desire, creating environments of whimsy, darkness and sadness.
"I want the audience to be entertained, delighted and disturbed," says Sexton. "I want the play to make them be reminded of their own desires. I want them to question: What is this thing called love?"
Learn more about the 2013 Rutgers Theater Company season.
Caption: Sierra Tothero and Newark's Shamsuddin Abdul-Hamid. Photo by Larry Levanti.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona runs from Friday, April 26 through Sunday, May 12. Performances are 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $25 for the general public, $20 for Rutgers alumni and employees and seniors and only $15 for students with valid ID. The Philip J. Levin Theater is in the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center, 85 George Street (between Route 18 and Ryders Lane), on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick. For more information about any Mason Gross event, and to learn more about the 2012-2013 season at Mason Gross Performing Arts Center and Galleries, visit www.masongross.rutgers.edu, or call the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center ticket office at 732-932-7511.
Rutgers Theater Company
The Mason Gross School of the Arts' Theater Arts Department combines rigorous studio class work with a demanding production schedule to provide students with in-depth training and practice in theater. The Rutgers Theater Company is a resident company of student actors, designers, directors, playwrights, stage managers and technicians whose work is guided by master teachers and accomplished professionals. These conservatory students are enrolled in the three-year Master of the Fine Arts (MFA) and four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs. Note the degree program and year in the biographies of the performers and creative staff.
Shamsuddin Abdul-Hamid (Valentine - BFA III) is from Newark, New Jersey. His Rutgers Theater Company credits include: The Blue Room, Alonedom: Tuck-it-Away and Other Stories, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Shamsuddin is also a recipient of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center/Star Ledger scholarship for acting.
Shazi Akhtar (Speed - BFA III) is from Houston, Texas. Her Mason Gross School of the Arts credits include The Scarecrow and the class of 2014 Performance Ensemble piece Alonedom: tuck-it-away and other stories. In The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London she played the role of Silvia.
Shavonna Banks (Panthino/Host - BFA III) is from Columbus, Ohio. Rutgers credits include: The Actress in The Blue Room, and various parts in Alonedom: tuck-it-away and other stories. She has recently returned from studying at Shakespeare's Globe in London where she played Lucetta in The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Danielle Blakeman (Silvia - BFA III) is from Greensboro, North Carolina. Her Mason Gross School of the Arts credits include: The Blue Room, the class of 2014 Performance Ensemble piece Alonedom: Tuck-it-Away and Other Stories, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Shakespeare's Globe.
Alec Gaylord (Antonio/First Outlaw- BFA III) is from Los Angeles, California and is the founder of the Horde Theater Group in Los Angeles. Horde Theater credits include Dog Sees God. Rutgers University credits include The Blue Room, Alonedom: Tuck-it-Away and Other Stories, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Shakespeare's Globe.
Dalton Gray (Thurio - BFA III) is from Cornwall, New York. His Rutgers Theater Company credits include: The Aristocrat in The Blue Room and the Class of 2014's Performance Ensemble piece Alonedom: Tuck-it-Away and Other Stories. In New York City, he was Julian/River Rat in King's River.
Midori Iwama (Launce - BFA III) is from Rumson, New Jersey. Her Mason Gross School of the Arts credits include The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Shakespeare's Globe, 40N/74W, Night Swim, The League of Semi-Super Heroes, and Relief for Japan (Suzuki Project.)
Shahar Isaac Katz (Duke of Milan - BFA III) was born and raised in Israel. Rutgers University credits include The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London, Alonedom: Tuck-it-Away and Other Stories and The Blue Room. New York credits include: A Story Conference in Pilot Season and Glee Club.
Rosalind Lilly (Julia - BFA III) is from Brooklyn, New York. Her Mason Gross credits include The Blue Room and Alonedom: Tuck-it-Away and Other Stories. In New York, she has appeared with Theater for the New City, Downtown Art, and Piper Theater.
Jeffrey Sanchez (Crab/Second Outlaw/Eglamour - BFA III) is from Jersey City, New Jersey. His Rutgers Theater Company credits include Alonedom: Tuck-it-Away and Other Stories, The Blue Room and The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London. Professional credits include Alien vs. Cheerleaders, The Victorian and Firebirds. TV credits include World's Astonishing News.
Sierra Tothero (Proteus - BFA III) is from Austin, Texas. Her Rutgers Theater Company credits include The Blue Room, Alonedom: Tuck-it-Away and Other Stories and the role of Speed in The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
Terralon Walker (Lucetta/Third Outlaw - BFA III) is from Houston, Texas. Her Rutgers Theater Company credits include The Blue Room and the 2012 Performance Ensemble piece Alonedom: Tuck-it-Away and Other Stories and The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Shakespeare's Globe.
Jack Cummins (Stage Manager - BFA IV) hails from Bloomfield, New Jersey. Rutgers Theater Company credits: As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, Triumph of Love, Fen and Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act. New York: Zapata!, Midnight Madness (NYMF), Mountain Song (Samuel French). Regional: The Pavilion, It's A Wonderful Life (Mile Square Theatre).
Michael Sexton (Director) is the Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Society in New York City. Recent directing credits include: Henry V at Two River Theater Company; Kelly Masterson's Edith with Jayne Atkinson and Jack Gilpin at the Berkshire Theater Festival; and Titus Andronicus with Jay O. Sanders at the Public Theater. He has directed at Red Bull Theater, New York Theater Workshop, Manhattan Class Company, Classic Stage Company, Soho Rep, Performance Space 122, The Old Globe, Portland Center Stage, Playmakers Rep, Rising Phoenix Rep, SPF and the Cherry Lane Alternative. He has directed New York and world premieres of plays by Rinne Groff, Will Eno, Marsha Norman, Tony Kushner, Caryl Churchill, Ain Gordon, Rogelio Martinez, Victor Lodato, Phil Porter, Chloe Moss, Marin Gazzaniga, Eric Gamalinda and Rosemary Moore. He has been a guest artist at New York University's Graduate Acting Program, The Juilliard School, University of North Carolina and Columbia University, where he has directed the works of Shakespeare, Moliere, Ostrovsky, Tirso de Molina, Brian Friel, Stephen Adly Guirgis and Suzan-Lori Parks. He has taught at Princeton University, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, New York University. For The Shakespeare Society, Michael Sexton has programmed and directed events featuring a variety of actors, singers, dancers, directors and scholars, including John Douglas Thompson, Adam Gopnik, F. Murray Abraham, Michael Cerveris, Stephen Greenblatt, Brian Cox, Martha Plimpton, James Shapiro, Robert Pinsky, Marjorie Garber, Trevor Nunn, Denis O'Hare, Estelle Parsons and Michael Cumpsty.
Jeff Carr (Lighting Design - MFA III) is a graduate of Christopher Newport University in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Credits include: King's River (off-off-Broadway) The Nutcracker Ballet (Centenary College), Under Construction (Rutgers), Uncle Vanya (Rutgers), Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Rutgers), Much Ado About Nothing (Rutgers), Home Made (Rutgers) and boom (Rutgers).
Ashley Cusack (Set Design - MFA II) is from Long Branch, New Jersey. She earned her BFA in art and psychology from Caldwell College. Rutgers design credits include: A Raisin in the Sun, Pilgrims, Lady of Fadima and Minnesota Moon. She has done work for George Street Playhouse (New Brunswick, N.J.), Two River Theater Company (Red Bank, N.J.), Surflight Theatre (Beach Haven, N.J.) and Phoenix Productions (Red Bank, N.J.), among others.
Peter Fogel (Costume Designer - MFA II) is from North Babylon, New York. He received his BFA in theater production from Hofstra University. Design credits include: Intimate Apparel, Awake and Sing! (Hofstra University), Dog Sees God (Synapse Theatre Ensemble, New York City), Toxicity (New Perspectives Theatre Company, New York City) and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Rutgers Theater Company).
Matthew Silvay (Sound Designer) is from Kendall Park, N.J. Lighting Design credits: The Author's Voice (Jameson), Minnesota Moon (Jameson), The Tempest (Opera at Rutgers).
Liza Sobel (Composer) began her MA/PhD in composition at Rutgers University this year, studying composition with Gerald Chenoweth and voice with Judith Nicosia. She completed her bachelor's at Cornell University, graduating with honors. Her previous composition teachers were Steven Stucky, Kevin Ernste and Richard Danielpour. Her music has been performed by West Point Woodwind Quintet, Helix and Skyros String Quartet. She has participated at music festivals including Chamber Music Institute, and this summer at Bowdoin and nief-norf summer festivals. Liza was a Fulbright Scholar at Newcastle University, England, in the summer of 2010. Liza was Cornell's endorsed candidate and/or finalist for the Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright and Keasbey scholarships.