Misura per misura 

Debut: Viterbo, Teatro Unione, 21 December 1979

Translation Luigi Squarzina
Direction Luigi Squarzina
Assistant director  Gianni Fenzi
Set and costume Emanuele Luzzati
Music Benedetto Ghiglia
Production Teatro di Roma

Characters and performers

Vincenzo, Duke of Vienna Massimo Foschi
Angelo, vicar Roberto Herlitzka
Escalo, noble elder Antonio Ballerio
Claudio, a young gentleman Piero Sammataro
Lucio, fantastic Vittorio Congia
1° gentleman Bruno Zeni
2° gentleman Sergio Castellitto
3° gentleman Walter Corda
The Bargello Stefano Lescovelli
Friar Peter Francesco Calogero
Elbow, guard Giovanni Poggiali
Foam, client of brothels Sergio Castellitto
Pompey, servant of madam Strafotta, clown Gianni Fenzi
Abominable, executioner Francesco Calogero
Bernardino, convict Antonio Cascio 
A judge Vittorio Viviani
A jailer Raffaele Montagnoli
Isabella, Claudio's sister Ilaria Occhini
Giulietta, Claudio's girlfriend Liliana Paganini
Mariana, Angelo's girlfriend Marina Tagliaferri
Francesca, nun Antonia Piazza
Madama Strafotta, pimp Donatella Ceccarello
The singer Anita Marini
Guards Nazzareno Meschini
Carlo Morelli
Enrico Ruggini

Squarzina staged three editions of this play: in 1957, 1976 and 1979, following different interpretations. Starting from the very first edition, he oversaw the translation, which was considered exquisite, modern, brilliant, and theatrically sound.

In the first edition Squarzina read 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 –, and 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 own problems in the 1970s, he accompanied the production with university lectures, dedicating to Shakespeare a single-theme course in 1976-77. Squarzina then accompanied the successful encore performances of Misura per Misura in Italian theatres with the essay entitled “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.