Monday, April 24, 2017

Meet the company of Cupid's Revenge

Travis Burbee (Agenor) recently relocated to New York and this will be his first full production in the city. He is thrilled to be a part of this unique and exciting production. Some of Burbee's most recent credits include Beethoven in Dog Sees God, Peter in Pinkalicious, Glaston in The Reluctant Dragon, and Eric in Runaways.

Jane Coty (Nisus) is a new actress in the Manhattan theater scene. Previous New York credits include: And This is How You Break My Heart (Ellen), Wolves (Eleanora), Ashes to Ashes (Rebecca), A Dolls House (Mrs. Linde), and Emotional Creature (Ensemble). Special thanks to all my teachers who told me I could.

Alex Dabertin (Leucippus) is an artistic associate at Bad Quarto Productions. Alex was recently seen in Bad Quarto's productions of Hamlet: The First Quarto as Hamlet, and The Taming of a Shrew as Polidor. Alex directed Bad Quarto's Summer 2016 production of What, Lamb! What, Ladybird!, and assisted with direction of Bad Quarto’s Fall 2016 production of The Life and Death of Jack Straw. Additionally, he will direct Bad Quarto's Summer 2017 production of Love's Labour's Lost.

Lindsay Fabes (Cleophila/Urania/Citizen 3) is thrilled to be joining Bad Quarto Productions this season! She is a recent graduate of the University of Oklahoma's School of Drama, and was most recently involved in the Midtown International Theatre Festival as a Fight Director for Mescaline. Some of her other recent credits include Tribes (Sylvia u/s) at Barrington Stage Company, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Hermia), and Bonnie and Clyde (Bonnie/Blanche u/s). She would like to thank her family and friends for always supporting her. Love you all!

Amelia Fei (Hidaspes/Citizen 1) is a recent graduate from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC. Her New York credits include Columbia University School of the Arts MFA 8 to 12 Film Festival: Leo's EducationThe Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow (Jennifer Marcus), Into The Woods Parody (Quick Silver Productions). She is granted a BA in Western Literature in Taiwan, and is grateful to have this wonderful opportunity to being a part of the Cupid’s Revenge family. Endless love to her parents and friends.
Brandon Fox (Leontius) is from Wall, New Jersey. He is a recent graduate of the Rutgers, Mason Gross School of the Arts BFA program. New York credits include Romeo and Juliet at Gorilla Rep, Imagine at Theater for the New City and I Am Irish at the NY Winterfest. Rutgers credits include playing Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, Gabriel in Gabriel directed by Christopher Cartmill and Mink in Sardanapalus directed by Knud Adams.                                                                                                        

Liz Lodato (Dorialus/Urania’s Maid) is a graduate of the Mary Baldwin Shakespeare and Performance MLitt/MFA program. Liz previously appeared with Bad Quarto Productions in The Vagina Monologues. Recent credits include Twelfth Night, Love's Labours Lost, and The Duchess of Malfi (American Shakespeare Center), and new work, Smoke Break (Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia, PA). Liz is currently a professor of English and Theater at St. Peter's University in Jersey City, NJ.

James Overton (Music Director; Telamon/Priest/Citizen 4) is working with Bad Quarto Productions for the fourth time, having previously appeared in The Life and Death of Jack StrawHamlet: The First Quarto; and The Taming of a Shrew. Other NYC theatre credits include: Twelfth Night with Swiftly Titling Theatre Project, Little Red in the Hood: And Other R-Rated Shorts, and And Then There Were None with Alpha NYC Theatre Company. James has also appeared with New Hampshire's Shakespeare in the Valley as Launce in Two Gentlemen of Verona as well as Oberon and Theseus in A Midsummer Night's Dream. James is currently a studying improvisation at the Upright Citizen's Brigade. He  received his Bachelor's Degree from Bennington College where he starred in Don Juan, and Myths and Hymns.

Marcella Pereda (Ismenus/Bacha’s Maid) is new to New York City, having moved here in September of last year. Recent regional favorites include Tis Pity She's a Whore (Annabella), The Skin of Our Teeth (Gladys) and the world premiere of Remington and Weasel (Kim). BFA, University of Utah. Learn more at

Analiese Puzon (Fight Captain; Timantus) is excited to bring this crazy story to life with such a passionate and talented cast! Favorite credits include: Francine Skullvos Brendan, Pirate Navigator at the New York Renaissance Faire; Juror #6 in Twelve Angry Women, and Ermengarde in Hello, Dolly!. She is a recognized Actor/Combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors and is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC.

Sabrina Robinson (Bacha)  is excited to reignite her passion for acting with the company of Cupid's Revenge! Known for being energetic and nice, Sabrina enjoys acting because she's able to explore the other facets of her personality and transform into an entirely different person. A Jersey native, she attended college and grad school in Philadelphia, and has lived in Manhattan for the past two years. She loves feasting on food and libations with friends, frolicking around the city, and snuggling her poodle.

Ivy Tinker (Cupid/Zoylus/Hero/Citizen 2) is finishing up her third year at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and is thrilled to join Bad Quarto for this production! Previous roles include Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Dawn Midnight in The Secretaries. She is also very excited to be playing Annie in The Vibrator Play at Stella Adler Studio of Acting this coming May.

Angelina LaBarre (Director)  is a director and professor at Contra Costa College. Recent directing credits with CCC include Exit, Pursued By a Bear; The Laramie Project; Almost, Maine; and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged. Other CA directing credits include The Merry Wives with Big Idea Theatre, Julius Caesar with Darkroom Productions, and Twelfth NightThe Sea Voyage; and The Merry Wives of Windsor with Roving Shakespeare. Angelina holds an MFA and an M.Litt. in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin University’s partner program with the American Shakespeare Center, and a BA from Sacramento State University.

Anthony Vaughn Merchant (Fight Choreographer) is an experienced stage veteran with a MFA from The University of Kansas City. In addition to a laundry list of classical experience from Bottom to Tiresias, He has also made a number of appearances on screen for HBO, Hulu and Netflix to name a few. He has done the fight work for a number of companies including his notable wrestling match in CTF production of As You Like It which was praised by a member of the WWE.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Embracing Cupid's Revenge

The Jacobin revenge tragedy is not my favorite genre of play. The wanton bloodshed and downright spectacle of the pieces put me off, to be completely honest. In my mind Cupid’s Revenge or The Revenger’s Tragedy feel more in line with the films of Quentin Tarantino than the plays of Shakespeare. And while Tarantino's films and these plays have a lot to say about the world they spring from, that sort of extreme violence and simplistic morality parable meant having to work a little bit harder to find a human connection to Leucippus and the world Beaumont and Fletcher give us in Cupid's Revenge.

Leucippus (Alex Dabertin) puts Timantus (Analiese Puzon) to trial for
his crimes in Bad Quarto Productions' 2017 production of Beaumont and
Fletcher's Cupid's Revenge. Directed by Angelina LaBarre. 

I had to work with the director to find where the heart of Prince Leucippus lay and why he is the way that he is. Most of the conversations that Angelina and I had centered on guilt. Leucippus falls victim to misplaced passion from the start, and his manipulation by the diety leads him to other, more fatal errors. His ardor for the moral improvement of Lycia, ultimately costs him his sister, his father, and his life. Out of Leucippus’ honest desire to have the best for himself and others comes tragedy. And it was the idea of his guilt for those past actions that opened Leucippus for me.

In my exploration of Leucippus' guilt, I found an even deeper motivation: disgust. Leucippus becomes disgusted with himself and with his world, but he never loses his sympathy. He plays out the role of the Christian martyr with great honesty and, I hope, moving grace. There has an acceptance of his death that is aspirational for me.

My first few weeks with Cupid’s Revenge have been a journey from disgust to intrigue to love. I love the characters for all of their faults and desperate needs. And that's what makes this a good choice for Bad Quarto Productions: whereas other companies might focus on gruesome spectacle, our method of production will strip away some of the artifice from the incidents and leave these characters bare to the audience, open to judgment or admiration.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Rethinking Romance Genres with "Cupid's Revenge"

One of my joys in exploring the non-Shakespearean drama of the English Renaissance are the plays that play with genre. One can forgive Polonius (or even Corambis) for the extensive list of dramatic genres that players are to be congratulated for mastering: "the tragical-comical-historical-pastoral" (Hamlet, TLN 1479) suggests genre flips that can only be taxing for the playwrights and performers.

This kind of genre bending is rare for us today. We tend to know what kind of movie or television show we're going to get before we see it, and there is rarely any deviation from the formula. Which isn't to say that the formula can't be done well: I have previously written about my admiration for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but as intelligent and politically relevant, even necessary, as The Winter Soldier may be, it still follows the basic action genre formula closely.

Most dramatic works establish what Colin Counsell calls "the law of the text" pretty early and stick to it. The law of the text establishes the ground rules for the the audience's interpretation of all elements of a play, so it's important for more plays to establish the law of the text early in the performance (Counsell 15). As an audience, we need to know how we should interpret signs and signifiers in order to enjoy the reading of the story: i.e. should we read that table as a representation of a table from the period in which the play takes place? Should we interpret it as a sign of wealth and status of the characters who use it? Should we read it as an artistic commentary on that wealth and status, or by extension, those characters? Is the cigar merely a cigar, or should we understand it to have signifying value beyond itself? And if so, how much weight should we give that significance, especially as relates to the signifying value of the object as an object?

This law of the text is usually imparted to us, as an audience, so seamlessly that we don't even realize it's happening, but when that law changes, our understanding of the world is turned on its head. Some films use this as a technique to great success: When Keeanu Reeves wakes up in a vat of goo in The Matrix, nothing that we've seen in the movie up to that point makes sense anymore. When Selma Hayek bites down hard on Quentin Tarantino's jugular in From Dusk Till Dawn, we're as surprised as George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, and Juliette Lewis to learn that this is a vampire movie. We're as confused as everyone else, and as a result, we can share in the immediacy and confusion of our protagonists.

It's easy for us to forget that Shakespeare was a fairly conservative writer, but it also shouldn't be too surprising: when you're the master of a formula, why deviate from it? Even as Shakespeare begins to incorporate some of the changing dramatic tastes into his later work (a masque in The Tempest, for example), his later work is most notable for how his verse develops to match the rhythms of natural speech and thought more closely. The real innovations in dramatic formula came from the next generation of playwrights, and Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher offer us an example of how the "up and coming" playwrights of the early 1600s were developing their own dramatic signatures with plays like Cupid's Revenge.

The law of the text that Cupid's Revenge establishes tells us that this is going to be a romantic comedy. A puritan princess is going to get her comeuppance by falling in love with a clown, the Duke will learn the perils of doting too much on his daughter, and his son will, through all of this, leave off his dallying and grow into the kind of king Lycia needs him to be. And then the bodies start hitting the floor, and Cupid changes from a "blind rascally boy that abuses every one's eyes because his own are out" (as Shakespeare describes him) to a dark and vengeful god whose blood-lust can bring down a country. By the time we've figured out what's happening in this play, the characters we suspected were our protagonists are already dead.

Beaumont and Fletcher wrote Cupid’s Revenge at a time when theatre was beginning to more closely resemble theatre as we know it than it was theatre as Shakespeare knew it, and Beaumont and Fletcher were key innovators in making that leap. Cupid’s Revenge comes right from that moment when Shakespeare was starting to hang up his pen, and English theatre was making an evolutionary leap. This "next generation" of playwrights knew they needed to do something to make their mark, and their formal experiments in drama, including genre bending, helped bring the theatre of the early modern period into something more recognizable to the modern era.

Works Cited

Beaumont, Francis and John Fletcher. Cupid's Revenge. London: 1615. EEBO.  Accessed August 2016. STC 1667.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Dir. Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictyures: 2014. Film.

Counsell, Colin. Signs of Performance. London: Routledge. 1996. Print.

From Dusk Till Dawn. Dir. Robert Rodriguez. Miramax: 1996. Film.

The Matrix. Dir. The Wachowski Brothers. Warner Bros.: 1999. Film.

Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. The Open Source Shakespeare. Fairfax: George Mason University. Web. Accessed 20 February 2017. <>

--. Hamlet. The Open Source Shakespeare. Fairfax: George Mason University. Web. Accessed 20 February 2017. <>

--. Twelfth Night. The Open Source Shakespeare. Fairfax: George Mason University. Web. Accessed 20 February 2017. <>

Tambasco, Tony. "A Jig or a Tale of Bawdry." The Shakespeare Standard. 14 Sept. 2014. Web. Accessed 20 February 2017. <>

Monday, January 9, 2017

Announcing our 2017 Season!

Bad Quarto Productions is pleased to announce our 2017 season! The season includes Cupid’s Revenge, a rarely performed play by John Fletcher and Francis Beaumont,  the earliest printed version of Shakespeare’s early comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Anna Karenina Lives! A new musical play by Germaine Shames.

First printed in 1615, Cupid's Revenge is a tale of love, revenge, and mortal folly that was highly influential to post-Shakespearean playwrights. When the Duke of Lycia prohibits the worship of Cupid, the god of love decides to take revenge on his entire kingdom, putting the future of Lycia in peril.

Angelina LaBarre, a California based director and Shakespeare scholar will guest direct this lost classic of the English Renaissance this spring. Some of LaBarre’s most recent credits include Exit, Pursued By a Bear; The Laramie Project; Almost, Maine; and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged with Contra Costa College and The Merry Wives with Big Idea Theatre, and Julius Caesar with Darkroom Productions.

Our summer offering will be a production of the earliest printed version of Love's Labour's Lost, one of Shakespeare's early comedies that we know primarily through the Folio version. The first quarto of Love’s Labour’s Lost was printed in 1598. When the King of Navarre and his friends decide to isolate himself from the world to study philosophy, they think they’ve created the perfect way of understanding the world, but their plans are foiled when the Princess of France and her ladies arrive on a diplomatic mission, the four gentleman discover the weakness in monastic philosophy.

Alex Dabertin, who directed 2015's What, Lamb! What, Ladybird!, and has previously appeared onstage as Hamlet in our production of Hamlet: The First Quarto and as Polidor in The Taming of a Shrew, will direct this rarely performed version of one of Shakespeare's most beloved comedies.

Our regular season comes to a close with Anna Karenina Lives! by Germaine Shames. Anna Karenina Lives! is a new musical comedy that sees a young Mae West Join forces with Sophia Tolstoy to save Anna and the Russian aristocracy from themselves through the power of love and vaudeville.

Bad Quarto Artistic Director Tony Tambasco, who most recently directed our production of The Life and Death of Jack Straw, will direct Anna Karenina Lives! this coming Fall.