Misura per misura

Debut: Rome, Teatro Argentina, 21 December 1976

Translation Luigi Squarzina
Direction Luigi Squarzina
Director assistants  Gianni Fenzi
Angelo Corti
Lorenza Codignola
Assistant director Mario Rellini
Set and costume  Emanuele Luzzati
Music Benedetto Ghiglia
Production Teatro di Roma

Characters and performers

Vincenzo, Duke of Vienna Luigi Vannucchi
Angelo, vicar Gabriele Lavia 
Escalo, noble elder Tino Bianchi 
Claudio, a young gentleman Claudio Puglisi 
Lucio, fantastic Mario Scaccia 
1° gentleman Edoardo Sala 
2° gentleman Lorenzo Moncelsi
3° gentleman Gianni Williams 
The Bargello SebastianoTringali 
Friar Peter Pino Sansotta 
Elbow, guard Ettore Conti 
Foam, client of brothels Alberto Sorrentino 
Pompey, servant of madam Strafotta, clown Gianni Fenzi 
Abominable, executioner Franco Calogero 
Bernardino, convict Franco D’Amato 
A judge Romolo Barbona 
A jailer Roberto Longo
Isabella, Claudio's sister Ottavia Piccolo 
Giulietta, Claudio's girlfriend Francesca Muzio
Marianna, Angelo's girlfriend Rosa Maria Tavolucci
Francesca, nun Patrizia Sacchi 
Madama Strafotta, pimp Jole Silvani 
A child singing Antonio Valenti 
Guards Enzo Benelli
Enzo Provenzano
Mario Rellini
Massimo Rinaldi

Squarzina staged three editions of this play: in 1957, 1976 and 1980, following different readings. Since the very first edition, he has curated its translation, considered exquisite and theatrically valid, modern and brilliant. 

In the first edition Squarzina reads in the Shakespearian comedy the hypocrisy of censorship, which was in force at the time, with a light and pleasant direction, adhering to the spirit of drama, sober and clear, organic and elegant, paying a great homage to culture.

In the second edition he situated the production in its cultural and historical dimension, making Shakespeare our contemporary: indeed, he saw in it “the themes of the ambiguity of religious, political, and judiciary power; of the corrupted and ungovernable city that must still be governed; of order and disorder, inextricably entangled”.

In order to determine the comedy’s cultural and political motivations and its theatrical connotations in the field of Elizabethan theatre, and to understand the possible connections with our problems of the 1970s, he furnishes the production with university lectures, dedicating to Shakespeare a monographic course in 1976-77. Therefore, Squarzina accompanies the successful encore performances of Measure for Measure in Italian theatres with the essay “Le strutture del teatro elisabettiano-giacobeo” (“The structures of Elizabethan-Jacobean theatre”, 1978).

The production of the second edition, and the observations developed through the single-theme course and in the essay, can be read as references to our national history in the final quarter of the last century. And this is the essential merit of Squarzina’s innovative reading of a great classic: the manifold abuse of power, the hypocrisy of virtue and purity, the unmaking of values and the confusion of moral languages, and iniquity disguised as justice.

The production, although clearly pointing out connections with the political, social and cultural history of England, was projected towards our own time, so much so that “Squarzina’s Shakespeare becomes contemporary... through a reading as humble as it is piercing, made, though, with the vigilant conscience of a modern man”: a deeply examined and head-on reading of modernity, entirely civil (thus political, but not politicised).

The third edition came on the heels of the essay “Brecht e gli elisabettiani” [“Brecht and the Elizabethans”], 1979, wherein he introduced the comparison between Brecht’s “Round Heads and Pointed Heads” and the Shakespearian text, the primary source for Brecht’s play, into his design for the contemporary production, which was not staged because of copyright issues. In this edition, “considering the text’s mysterious quality as a seismograph, the three years that have shocked us between ’76 and ’79 could not but be influential on the main characters’ ideological convolutions and on their interplay... years on top of which power managed once again to return shamelessly to the fore, aided by that very ‘dread’ that in fact reinforced the domination that it claimed to be trying to undermine”.

Shakespeare, once again, is our contemporary.

We thank Teatro di Roma for the concession of the use of photographic material.