Lovers & Madmen performs classic and classically inspired shows throughout the year, and although their name comes from a “Midsummer Night’s Dream” quote, it proves apt to describe “Cardenio,” their fall show premiering tonight.
“Cardenio” centers around a wedding party, but its background is more “madmen” than “lovers.” It has a Shakespearean comedy structure with all modern language – except for a play within the play that is in traditional verse. The main plot is based on a story within “Don Quixote,” while the mini-play is based on the play “Double Falsehood,” which was probably based on a lost Shakespeare play named “Cardenio.”
Essentially, the parents of the groom find this lost Shakespeare play and demand it be performed at the wedding.
Confusing, no? It took a visit to Shanley Pavilion to understand it all. On the night before opening, the crew and eleven-person cast were preparing for a full run-through, and the small theater was buzzing. The faint smell of paint and the sound of actors running lines wafted over people adjusting chairs, ladders, lights and costumes.
As he described the show’s intricate lineage, director Adam Orme was also weighing in on program design and commenting on an actor’s doublet. His blue shirt was stained with sweat, but his eyes were bright and enthusiastic.
Why should Northwestern students see this strange play?
“Everyone loves a love story,” Orme said.
Along with explorations of gender stereotypes and why classic plays are still performed, there’s a ton of fun. It’s a rom-com with an old soul, in which “everyone can see something of themselves onstage,” he said.
Orme is a junior majoring in theater, and this is his first directing gig for L&M as well as StuCo.
“I just tell people where to stand and [to] be louder and drunker this time,” he joked.
He praised his cast as “really wonderful and fun and [taking] a lot of risks” in their performance.
Perhaps the most difficult part of rehearsals, in his opinion, was waiting for them to start, which they did on September 8th. All roles were race- and gender-unspecific in auditions. Orme stressed the need for even further work in diversity for L&M and StuCo.
This open-minded casting resulted in sophomore Jordan Moore rocking a wig and dress as Luisa, the bride’s mother. After the cast gathered, it took slightly less than a month to build the comedic world of “Cardenio.”
The jokes stopped being as funny after hearing them endlessly in rehearsal, but in a run last week, Orme regained appreciation for the comedy and the fundamental quality of the play.
Claire Glubiak agreed. The junior, who studies theater, plays Camilla, the bride, and she was in costume as she spoke: a plain white knee-length dress with a burgundy sash, rather than the long gown one might expect. Her favorite part about “Cardenio” rehearsals was the people.
The show is about a party, and “rehearsals are a giant celebration,” Glubiak said.
Along with the camaraderie, Glubiak enjoyed returning to acting, after a long stretch of playwriting and producing. Her plays deal with love and how people love one another, themes relevant to “Cardenio.” She is currently writing a play called “Machismo,” which will be performed at Shanley in February.
Her onstage groom, Anselmo, is played by sophomore Josh Krivan. Although in the play Camilla realizes she is actually in love with the best man, Glubiak and Krivan seem to be good friends as they explained why “Cardenio” echoes Northwestern students’ lives.
Krivan described his character as “frenetic” and compared Anselmo’s mind to his own characteristically Northwestern hyper-busy lifestyle.
“I got three hours of sleep last night,” he reported, listing an exhausting number of causes.
Laughing, Glubiak presented a rosier picture. To her, the show “celebrates friendship and love and food and champagne,” which is what college should be.
Come find out for yourself: “Cardenio” runs from October 6-8 in Shanley Pavilion.
Shows are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 7:30 and 11, and Saturday at 2 and 7:30.
The cost is $5 for students and $10 for general public, but Thursday night and Saturday afternoon are pay-what-you-can (come free or donate what you’d like).