Balcony scenes

What better way to raise money for an undergraduate trip to a Shakespeare performance than to stage a benefit where Chicago undergrads perform scenes from Shakespeare?

So this Sunday night, in a classic “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show!” move, Lee and Michael Behnke (she’s director of the undergraduate Latin program and teaches in the Core humanities sequence Human Being and Citizen (HBC); he’s vice president and dean of College enrollment) will turn over their Hyde Park apartment for “Cupid’s Pageant,” a one-shot benefit that—as you might expect when the theater is a living room—is already sold out.

The cause? Subsidizing ticket prices so that as many of the 300 HBC students who want to can attend a spring performance of Troilus and Cressida at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

They’ll be a knowledgeable audience. The play is part of this year's HBC syllabus, and the 13 students running the show—11 actors, costume designer, and graphics designer—have chosen ten scenes exploring Troilus and Cressida themes found in five more-celebrated Shakespeare plays, including Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo and Juliet.

Prefaced by an introduction from Shakespeare scholar and English professor emeritus David Bevington, the program focuses on aspects of romantic love: pining, wooing, betrayal, and the making of pacts. The curtain closer is from Troilus and Cressida (III.ii), in which the title pair plight their troth. What better way to end a benefit than with a pledge?


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A dress rehearsal gave Ryland Barton and Anna Christine the chance to peer out windows and over balconies. The invitation and program were designed by art-history major Simone Martin-Newberry, ’07, who drew a parallel between theater and the effect of entering France's Cathedral of Chartres, "where the contrasting darks and lights, shadows on the stone, and warm colors of the windows gave me the feeling of being transported to a place very separate from my regular world."

Rehearsal photos by Michael H. Behnke.

November 13, 2006