Manhattanville Dance and Theatre Presents Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well”

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Manhattanville Dance and Theatre Presents Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well”

March 2, 2017 • Anonymous

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"All's Well That Ends Well" photo by Crisitan Ramirez '17.
Led by Director Clista Townsend, Manhattanville students will stage “All’s Well That Ends Well,” for the annual spring Shakespeare production.

“All’s Well That Ends Well” is classified as one of William Shakespeare’s “problem plays,” because it blurs the line between comedy and tragedy. The play combines the familiar elements of folktales – heroes, kings, princesses, and difficult riddles – with Shakespeare’s own astute reflection on the public lives and gender politics of the ruling class.

While many of the more recent productions have placed the play against a contemporary backdrop because of its modern way of dealing with issues such as sexuality, Townsend, a visiting professor in the Manhattanville College Department of Dance and Theatre, opted to use a different setting. Her “fractured fairy tale” approach draws heavily from the whimsical, fairy-tale elements evident in the story.

“I'm excited for the audience to see a version of ‘All's Well That Ends Well’ that is not seen very often,” said Cristian Ramirez ’17, who portrays Parolles, a cowardly soldier and servant, and best friend to Bertram, the count. “We are integrating technology in a striking way. We are using projections in order to create our environments. We also have a very beautiful lighting system for the show, and some of our props are also very modern.”

With a cast of only 12 students, most playing multiple roles, much of the focus during rehearsals was placed on character development.

“The play offers a rich tapestry of characters to investigate and inhabit,” said Townsend. “There are complex, nuanced women [and] there are conflicted men.”

During rehearsal, both Townsend and the cast were struck by the cultural relevance of “All’s Well That End’s Well.” Unlike others in the canon, Townsend stresses that the narrative of the play is one that is primarily driven by women—a woman even speaks the opening lines—which makes it culturally relevant.

“[It] suggests that true love can and does exist between good women and flawed men, where strong women win the war of the sexes using wit and wisdom against foolish and frivolous men,” Townsend stated. “The irony of the title [also] … speaks to the ethical shadings and ambiguities of a world adrift without a moral compass.”

Although many might feel that Shakespeare is out of their reach, Townsend urges them to feel otherwise.

“My fervent hope is for those that feel Shakespeare is inaccessible, or ‘over their heads’ to discover how this extraordinary playwright demands of actor and audience alike a greater capacity to integrate intellectual, emotional, and physical expression,” said Townsend.

Performances will be held Friday, March 3 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 4 at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, March 5 at 2 p.m. in the Little Theatre in Brownson Hall. Tickets are $5 for Manhattanville students and senior citizens and $10 for general admission. For reservations call (914) 323-7175 or email mvilledthboxoffice@gmail.com.

Written By: Emily Behnke ‘19
Photo By: Cristian Ramirez ‘17

School of Arts and Sciences

Dance & TheatreClista TownsendCristian Ramirez