Measure for Measure

Actors from the Brown Box Theatre Company perform William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure.” Those interested can check out the show Saturday evening in downtown Berlin and several other performances throughout September in Worcester County.

(Aug. 30, 2019) Residents and visitors can take advantage of several free performances of William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” over the next month in Worcester County, with the first showing this Saturday on Pitts Street in Berlin.  

The Brown Box Theatre’s seventh annual performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the intersection of Main and Pitts streets. Pitts Street will be shut down during the production. 

Audience members are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs to the show. 

Artistic Director Kyler Taustin said Saturday night’s show is accessible for all, and would be a sight to see. 

“I firmly believe that Shakespeare is meant to be seen, and heard,” Taustin said. “Coming to see Shakespeare the way it’s meant to be seen is a completely different experience and indeed can be for everyone.”

“Measure for Measure” is “one of Shakespeare’s lesser known works,” according to Taustin, who said the play tells a story of Isabella, a woman fighting to save her brother after he is arrested for impregnating his fiancée. Isabella, a religious woman with plans to become a nun, attempts to appeal to the town’s leader, Angelo. 

“It is a story of surrounding consent, and it is a story that really analyzes the hypocrisy of power by those who are meant to uphold it,” Taustin said. “And, it’s a very interesting concept to think that a play that is over 400 years old can be so relevant to the headlines of today.

While the show is open to the public, Taustin said viewer discretion is advised due to some of the mature topics that are addressed in the play.

He also said he chose this play as a way to help facilitate conversations about difficult topics.

“No matter what side of the aisle you may fall on politically, no matter what gender you might be, these are conversations that we believe need to be had, and we’re excited to hopefully be catalysts for those conversations with this productions,” he said.

Taustin said attendance rates at performances vary from 70 to 400 people, and depend on several factors, including the date and venue.

Ivy Wells, Berlin’s community and economic development director, said audiences have grown to crowds of up to 300 people in recent years.

“It’s a great experience and it is just top-quality entertainment,” Wells said.

Wells also said she hopes theater buffs take advantage of this rare opportunity to go to the theater without leaving their own backyard. 

“When do you ever get to go see Shakespeare on the Eastern Shore? With [Berlin’s] … historic buildings in the background, it just adds to the ambiance of the night,” Wells said. 

Taustin agreed.

“It’s a great time,” Taustin said. “You go outside, and experience some outdoor theater under the stars, and it is unlike really other experience you can get right now in that area.”

Taustin, co-founder of the Brown Box Theatre, also said projects like these are important because he’s able to give back to his community. 

“I was born and raised in Berlin, which is really why the company was founded – this idea of bringing theater and culture back to my hometown,” Taustin said.

In addition to the show in Berlin this weekend, the Brown Box Theatre will perform “Measure for Measure” at 7:30-9:30 p.m. several times over the course of the next month in Worcester County:

• Sept. 5 at Cypress Park on 7 Bridge St. in Pocomoke City

• Sept. 6 at Sturgis Park on River Street in Snow Hill

• Sept. 8 at Sunset Park on 700 S. Philadelphia Ave. in Ocean City

• Sept. 19 at Northside Park on 200 125th St. in Ocean City

“What we bring to each performance is identical, but what the community or what the venue brings to the performance is different,” Taustin said.

The Worcester County Arts Council also provided a $2,500 grant through the Community Arts Development Program, which provides money to local agencies bringing cultural experiences to Worcester County. Executive Director Anna Mullis added that the Maryland State Arts Council supported the grant funding. 

Mullis praised Brown Box Theatre for bringing these types of productions to Worcester County.

“We are proud to support such a quality and professional theater as an accessible source of performing arts that is available to all audiences, regardless of income level or location,” Mullis said.

Taustin also expressed his excitement about how Berlin’s art scene has grown to include art, music and live performances. 

“We have really been excited to be a part of the theatrical component of bringing about that vibrancy,” he said.

For more information about the Brown Box Theatre, visit the company’s website at brownboxtheatre.org.

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