Students form their own judgments

17th October 1997 at 01:00
Measure for MeasureEnglish Touring TheatreThough it's about judgment, Measure + for Measure serves up questions rather than ladling out prescriptions. Why + certain decisions are made in the play is explored through English Touring + Theatre's education work, geared to A-level English and theatre studies + students.Designer Conor Murphy places Michael Gordon's production on an + abstract, skeletal set. It reflects, says head of education Fiona Lesley, a + play that presents a series of actions, its characters defined by their + decisions of the moment. English students at Birmingham's Cadbury College + appreciated being taken, during a workshop, on an imaginative journey, building+ mental pictures of various scenes.The play is given on a bare stage in simple + costumes; the education sessions explore the character relationships such a + staging emphasises. Students direct workshop leaders Sue Harding and Martin + Heaney through lsabella's first departure from Angelo. Who looks at, or away + from, whom? Who moves, or stops, when? Or students play Angelo giving the + anxious Provost confirmation Claudio must die, showing the pair as friends, + then with either as superior. It seems impossible the Provost should have + higher status - till someone suggests he assumes momentary moral superiority + over an Angelo whose decision he cannot respect. This student idea hits at the + heart of the play: character created by the instant choices demanded when + feeling and thought are separated. And it is not just about individuals, but + how they fit into society. As the moral swamp steams in Vienna's streets, the + main characters are shut away, the Duke in supposed exile, Angelo in his + self-suppressing puritanica l code, Isabella getting herself to a nunnery, even+ Claudio self-absorbed in prison. The production is cool, at times undercooked;+ the workshops bring the play's inner life to the boil.Timothy RamsdenWorthing,+ October 21-25, Buxton, October 28-November 1, Darlington, November 4-8, + Dartford, November 11-15. Details of education programme: Fiona Lesley 01270 + 501800

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