Friday, November 3, 2017

Now Accepting Proposals for Spring 2018

We are now soliciting proposals for our 2018 season! We're seeking proposals from directors or ensembles for production in the spring (mid-March - late April) of 2018 in NYC. Proposals should include:
1) A play that is either a non-Folio variant of a play by William Shakespeare or a play by one of Shakespeare's contemporaries with a running time of about 90 minutes (cut or uncut).
2) An argument for the play that addresses why the play needs to be seen now, and the director's / ensemble's personal connection to the play and what they most wish to explore.
3) A director's / ensemble's resume with links to online portfolio sames.
Please email proposals to artistic director Tony Tambasco at Please submit any attachments as a pdf. To be considered for spring 2018 production, please be sure to email your proposal by 30 November 2017.
Please note that Bad Quarto Productions is committed to casting diversity of all kinds in its productions, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or personal or political philosophy. By submitting a proposal, you agree that you either share those principles, or at the very least that you will honor them in your work with us.
All proposals that meet the above criteria will be considered, but due to the volume of responses we anticipate receiving, we regret that we will not be able to respond to all submitters.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Why Anna Karenina Lives?

Part of Bad Quarto Productions' mission is to explore modern plays using Shakespearean staging conditions: this serves the dual purpose of illuminating the effects of early modern playing conditions on plays for which they were not written, and for engaging with the early modern staging condition of presenting new plays. Hamlet was a new play once, after all, and while we revere (some of) the plays of Shakespeare and (some of) his contemporaries, early modern audiences tended to crave newness.
The cast of Bad Quarto Productions’ Anna Karenina Lives! (from left to right: Rachel Marie Kemp as Anna Karenina, Kirsten Egenes as Sophia Tolstoy, Brigette Estola as Mae West, and James Overton) sings their curtain number. Written by Germaine Shames. Directed by Tony Tambasco. Choreography by Mike Canestraro. Musical Direction by James Overton. Costumes by Joanne Famiglietti. Photo by James M. Smith. 

But that's why we do new plays, generally, not why we're performing Anna Karenina Lives!

Anna Karenina Lives! is the clearest departure from a Shakespearean play that we've done to date; all the others that we've done have had some connection, direct or indirect, to Shakespearean plays or dramaturgy. But of all the modern plays we've done, Anna Karenina Lives! perhaps best encapsulates the spirit of Bad Quarto Productions. 

Anna Karenina Lives! is a musical vaudeville that remixes Anna Karenina, the life of Sophia Tolstoy, and the life and art of Mae West in a narrative that challenges the traditional readings of a novel that was voted "greatest book ever written" by a 2007 poll of authors in Time. Germaine Shames looks through the academic bravura of the novel in a way that even other stage adaptations have wrestled with, and looks to the heart of the eponymous character through the lens of the 21st century, exemplified by the century-ahead-of-her-time Mae West. The "standard" readings of Anna Karenina are offered only to be brushed aside as irrelevant to the needs of a 21st century woman, and Shames offers a template for reading the novel that insists that we read critically, and through the lens of our own modern relevance. 

Mae West (Brigette Estola, right) teaches Sophia Tolstoy (Kirsten Egenes) the shimmy in Bad Quarto Productions’ 2017 production of Anna Karenina Lives! By Germaine Shames. Directed by Tony Tambasco. Choreography by Mike Canestraro. Musical Direction by James Overton. Costumes by Joanne Famiglietti. Photo by James M. Smith. 

Anna Karenina is a novel so rich and large in scope that it defies easy description or summary, but even those who haven't read it will identify it as the novel where the heroine throws herself in front of a train. In creating a parallel between Anna's regrets and Sophia's, Shames asks the audience to consider the world in which that defining moment is avoidable, and Anna and Alexei Karenin are able to grow beyond their circumstances. It is a reading that dares us to imagine that to be human is the most heightened form of existence there is.

Shames's reading also asks to consider Anna Karenina through the eyes of two very different women, who were both pioneers in their own way. Sophia Tolstoy, Leo Tolstoy's wife, who was a diarist and pioneering photographer, but who also lived to see everything she loved swept away by the Communist revolution, and Mae West, an artist and social activist so far ahead of her time that we still fall short of her sex-positive, Feminist philosophies have competing readings of the novel, and of the nature of reading. Sophia looks back in fatalistic regret, but Mae looks forward with the determination of an architect of the future: the former laments that a "flawless work of art" cannot be changed, the latter insists it needs to be. 

Mae West (Brigette Estola, right) seduces Alexei Karenin (James Overton) in a bid to get him to loosen up a bit in Bad Quarto Productions’ 2017 production of Anna Karenina Lives! By Germaine Shames. Directed by Tony Tambasco. Choreography by Mike Canestraro. Musical Direction by James Overton. Costumes by Joanne Famiglietti. Photo by James M. Smith.
Right now, we are all Mae West, insisting that the system needs to change. For centuries, our cultural narratives have been dominated by white, male elites, and it is a testament to the success of Liberal Arts education that individuals of every race, gender, and socio-economic class can insist that their narratives be heard. In presenting Shakespeare's plays the way in which we present them, it is partly our aim to liberate Shakespeare from the prison of high drama and English literature classes that elites have placed him in, and restore his work to its rightful place on public stages, warts and all, where Shakespearean plays can truly be for everyone. While we may sometimes fall shy of our goals to make our plays as diverse as our audiences, they are goals that we continually strive for. 

And they are goals that any theatre company that hopes to be relevant in the 21st century needs to work for. 

While Anna Karenina Lives! breaks the mold of modern plays that Bad Quarto Productions has presented, it confronts the most critical issue of the modern stage head-on: who are the classics for. And the play's answer is the same as Bad Quarto's: a resounding everyone.  

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Meet the company of Anna Karenina Lives!

Meet the company of Bad Quarto Productions' Anna Karenina Lives!

Brigette Estola (Mae West) is a Brooklyn-based theatre creator and performer, poet and stand-up comedian. She is a Michigan native and a graduate of Carthage College. Most recently, Brigette produced and directed her play Up Above & All Around in the New York Theatre Festival's Summerfest. Favorite roles include Ursula (The Little Mermaid), Roberta (Danny & the Deep Blue Sea), Janis Joplin (Beehive! The 60's Musical) and Dot/Marie (Sunday in the Park with George). She's forever thankful and grateful for all those who support and push her daily.

Germaine Shames (author), recipient of Arizona’s Fellowship in Fiction, is author of the award-winning  novels, Between Two Deserts and You, Fascinating You. Writing under the pen name Casper Silk (Hotel Noir, Echo Year), she has been compared to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Graham Greene and P.D. James “on steroids”. A returning playwright, Shames majored in Theatre as an undergraduate. Following a successful career as a novelist and journalist, she wrote her first suite of short plays, Wars of the Flesh, which was voted into Tucson’s 2014 New Play Festival. Her first musical, the epic historical drama You, Fascinating You, was a finalist in the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival and under contract with a commercial producer. Songs from the show have been performed in Paris and New York City cabarets. Learn more at

Kirsten Egenes (Sophia Tolstoy) is thrilled to be making her debut with Bad Quarto Productions. NY: Charles and Diana: The Musical (Morningside Players), Oliver! (The Secret Theatre), The Importance of Being Earnest (Titan Theatre Co), The Jolly Holiday Carolers. Past favorites include Crimes of the Heart (Lenny), Ordinary Days (Deb), Lucky Stiff (Annabel). Doing great work as a proud grad of Gettysburg College. This is for Gail.

Mike Canestraro (choreographer) recently played Henry Higgins as  well as choreographed My Fair Lady for Plaza Theatricals, directed and choreographed Evangeline: A Musical Journey at Adelphi University; A South Shore Summer; Blame it on the Movies; and The Melody Lingers On for the Madison at Molloy, starring such artists as Kathryn Crosby, Rob Gallagher, Marie Danvers, Sarah Rice and Angelo Fraboni. Mike previously collaborated with Tony Tambasco on Merrily We Roll Along for the Drama League NYC. Mike has staged and restored countless musicals including several for the Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hart estates, at such venues as The Gateway Playhouse, College Light Opera Co., Five Towns, St. Joseph's College, and many Long Island school districts. He is a member of AEA and Lincoln Center Theatre's Directors Lab. Mike has twice won the Innovation in Theatre Award from the STARS AWARDS, plus a third Judge's Choice Award for his production of Ah, Wilderness! He has appeared Off-Broadway in Give My Regards to B'way. Student Prince, Merry Widow, New Moon and at such NYC venues as the Russian Tea Room, Don't Tell Mamma, and the Liederkranz Foundation. Regional credits include Maine State Music Theatre and Theatre by the Sea. TV: Royal Pains, Macy's Parade.

James Overton (music director / Vronsky, Karenin) is performing in his fifth show with Bad Quarto Productions, and this will be his second play with the company as Music Director. James was recently the Music Director for Bad Quarto's Cupid's Revenge earlier this year, in which he also performed. Other credits with Bad Quarto include Pastor John Ball in The Life and Death of Jack Straw: A Notable Rebel; The Ghost, Fortenbrasse, and the Player Duke in Hamlet: The First Quarto; and the Lord in The Taming of a Shrew. Other NYC theatre credits include Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night with Swiftly Titling Theatre Project. 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. He received his Bachelor's Degree from Bennington College where he starred in Don Juan, and Myths and Hymns. James is very excited to perform in something less than 100 years old.

Rachel Marie Kemp (Anna Karenina) is an actor/singer/dancer based in NYC. Originally from the Adirondacks, she has worked there regionally; favorite roles include: Baskerville (Actress 1), The Seagull (Nina), and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Hermia). In Brooklyn: Parade (Iola Stover), Singin’ in the Rain (Zelda), and Les Miserables (Cosette u/s). Rachel has performed at venues in the city ranging from Carnegie Hall to the Brooklyn Dodgers' MCU Stadium. Love always to the Kemp Fam.

Tony Tambasco (director) is the Artistic Director of Bad Quarto Productions, where he has directed The Life and Death of Jack Straw: A Notable Rebel; Hamlet: The First Quarto; The Taming of a Shrew; The Cronicle Historie of Henry the Fift, The Ballad of Dido; The Merry Devil of Edmonton, and others. Some other favorite directing credits include Julius Caesar with Sweet Tea Shakespeare in Fayetteville, NC; As You Like It with The Weathervane Playhouse in Newark, OH; An Experiment with an Air Pump with Clarkson University's Theatre Co., and Closer with the Catalyst Theatre Co. in Burlington, VT. Tony holds an MFA in directing and an M.Litt. in Shakespeare and Performance from The American Shakespeare Center's partner program with Mary Baldwin University. Tony's writings on Shakespeare, directing, and other theatrical topics have appeared in Didaskalia: The Journal for Ancient Performance, The Marlowe Society of America Newsletter, Breaking Character Magazine, and The Shakespeare Standard. You can learn more about his work at

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

When first quartos aren't necessarily bad quartos

Part of our guiding philosophy here at Bad Quarto Productions is that there's no such thing as a "bad quarto." While Laurie E. Maguire, in Shakespearean Suspect Texts, makes a case that certain of the printed playbooks do bear markers of what the New Bibliographers referred to as "memorial construction," that is not the same as saying that memorial reconstruction is a sure sign of literary piracy as Alfred W. Pollard, W. W. Greg, and John Dover Wilson understood it. To the contrary, Peter W. M. Blayney, in "The Publication of Playbooks," demonstrates that Pollard, Greg, and Wilson did not sufficiently understand the economics of printed playbooks in early modern London to know what basic literary commerce would have looked like, let alone literary piracy. That all said, the case of the first quarto of Love's Labour's Lost is instructive, as G. Hjort's argument for it as a "bad quarto" demonstrates the sort of fallacious thinking that colored the logic of the New Bibliographers, and can help us avoid similar mistakes in modern approaches.

Title page from the 1598 quarto of Love's Labour's Lost

Hjort published  “The Good and Bad Quartos of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Love's Labour's Lost.’” in 1926, in the heyday of the New Bibliographers' theory of literary piracy (Pollard having published Shakespeare's Fight with the Pirates and the Problems of The Transmission of his Text roughly ten years earlier). In his essay, Hjort finds evidence that the first quarto of Love's Labour's Lost "reads like a typical instance of a pirates work, made up from incomplete notes, eked out by a not too good remembrance of a performance" (Hjort 145). This evidence lies chiefly in Berowne's speech arguing for Ferdinand and his men to break their vows and pursue their loves...

Ber. O tis more then neede.
Haue at you then affections men at armes,
Consider what you first did sweare vnto:
To fast, to study, and to see no woman:
Flat treason gainst the kingly state of youth.
Say, Can you fast? your stomacks are too young:
And abstinence ingenders maladies.
And where that you haue vowd to studie (Lordes)
In that each of you haue forsworne his Booke.
Can you still dreame and poare and thereon looke.
For when would you my Lord, or you, or you,
Haue found the ground of Studies excellence,

Without the beautie of a womans face?

From womens eyes this doctrine I deriue,

They are the Ground, the Bookes, the Achadems,

From whence doth spring the true Promethean fire.

Why vniuersall plodding poysons vp
The nimble spirites in the arteries,
As motion and long during action tyres
The sinnowy vigour of the trauayler.
Now for not looking on a womans face,
You haue in that forsworne the vse of eyes:
And studie too, the causer of your vow.
For where is any Authour in the worlde,
Teaches such beautie as a womas eye:
Learning is but an adiunct to our selfe,
And where we are, our Learning likewise is.
Then when our selues we see in Ladies eyes,
With our selues.
Do we not likewise see our learning there?
O we haue made a Vow to studie, Lordes,
And in that Vow we haue forsworne our Bookes:

For when would you (my Leedge) or you, or you?
In leaden contemplation haue found out
Such fierie Numbers as the prompting eyes,
Of beautis tutors haue inritcht you with:
Other slow Artes intirely keepe the braine:
And therefore finding barraine practizers,
Scarce shew a haruest of their heauie toyle.
But Loue first learned in a Ladies eyes,
Liues not alone emured in the braine:
But with the motion of all elamentes,
Courses as swift as thought in euery power,
And giues to euery power a double power,
Aboue their functions and their offices.
It addes a precious seeing to the eye:
A Louers eyes will gaze an Eagle blinde.
A Louers eare will heare the lowest sound.
When the suspitious head of theft is stopt.
Loues feeling is more soft and sensible,
Then are the tender hornes of Cockled Snayles.
Loues tongue proues daintie, Bachus grosse in taste,
For Valoure, is not Loue a Hercules?
Still clyming trees in the Hesperides.
Subtit as Sphinx, as sweete and musicall,
As bright Appolos Lute, strung with his haire.
And when Loue speakes, the voyce of all the Goddes,
Make heauen drowsie with the harmonie.
Neuer durst Poet touch a pen to write,
Vntill his Incke were tempred with Loues sighes:
O then his lines would rauish sauageeares,
And plant in Tyrants milde humilitie.
From womens eyes this doctrine I deriue.
They sparcle still the right promethean fier,
They are the Bookes, the Artes, the Achademes,
That shew, containe, and nourish all the worlde.
Els none at all in ought proues excellent.
Then fooles you were, these women to forsweare:
Or keeping what is sworne, you will proue fooles,
For Wisedomes sake, a worde that all men loue:
Or for Loues sake, a worde that loues all men.
Or for Mens sake, the authour of these Women:
Or Womens sake, by whom we Men are Men.
Lets vs once loose our othes to finde our selues,
Or els we loose our selues, to keepe our othes:
It is Religion to be thus forsworne.
For Charitie it selfe fulfilles the Law:
And who can seuer Loue from Charitie.
        (TLN 1639 - 1716, highlights mine) 

Hjort argues that the passage, when read without the highlighted lines, "becomes perfectly clear and sensible, free from any repetitions" (Hjort 145). Hjort then offers the completed passage as a self evident example of the opposite; "the [completed] passage reminds one suspiciously strongly of corresponding passages in bad quartos" (Hjort 145). This argument is an exemplar of inductive reasoning: Hjort (and the other New Bibliographers) find evidence of piracy because that is what they wanted to find, and that evidence itself tends to be, as it is here, purely a matter of personal taste.

Hjort is correct in saying that removing the lines in the passage highlighted above reduce repetition, but it would be a mistake to presume that evidence of repetition should be equated with any sort of piracy, or even that it is undesirable. If we accept Michael Hirrel's argument that Shakespeare's plays were longer than many of his contemporaries' plays because audiences wanted to consume more of Shakespeare's words, it's not hard to imagine that one of Shakespeare's methods for delivering longer plays was om repeating and expanding on certain words and themes more than another dramatist might, as Shakespeare does in the complete passage above (Hirrel 171). It might also be useful to remember that the 1598 quarto of Love's Labour's Lost advertises that it has been expanded by Shakespeare since a recent court performance, and so the repetition might have been for the benefit of readers, and not performances.

Berowne (Courtney M. McClellan) can't believe he's fallen in love,
in a scene from Bad Quarto Productions' Love's Labour's Lost: The First Quarto.
Directed by Alex Dabertin. Photo by James M. Smith. 

And yet there's no reason to think the lines Hjort finds repetitive weren't originally written by Shakespeare for the purpose of repetition in performance. The lines "O we haue made a Vow to studie, Lordes, / And in that Vow we haue forsworne our Bookes," for example, repeat the word "Vow" and the metaphoric use of "Bookes" (i.e. women's faces) from above as a form of exergasia, or amplification through repetition. As Berowne has specifically been charged with making the case that the gentlemen should break their vows by the king, his use of rhetorical art is appropriate to the given circumstances of the play, and for a character known for his wit and wordplay. Excising this repetition from the text means removing a piece of Berowne's character.

I have found no other references to Q1 Love's Labour's Lost as a "bad quarto" apart from Hjort. Alfred Harbage, in 1962, posits that a "bad quarto" may have existed, citing the advertisement that the 1598 quarto is "newly corrected and augmented," but he is referring to a comparatively shorter and incomplete conceptual version of the play, rather than to a printed text (196) It is also noteworthy that Harbage considers the the 1598 quarto to be printed from an authorial manuscript as a matter of fact (196). Even for those looking for literary piracy, the assertion that the 1598 quarto of Love's Labour's Lost is such a text seems to have been a bridge too far.

But for the modern performance-minded editor. there are some very good reasons to remove those pieces of Berowne's speech mentioned above that have nothing to do with fantasies of literary piracy. A running time of ninety minutes has become so ubiquitous in the modern theatre that "NMNI" has developed into a convenient shorthand for plays with that approximate running time, and without an intermission (MacDonald). Over the past decade, this structure of plays has shaped audiences expectations (MacDonald). Giving audience members a play-going experience that more or less conforms to their cultural play-going expectations is something any theatre company with aspirations to any sort of longevity has to consider, at the very least.

Moth (Olivia Vessel) leads a post-show dance party in Bad Quarto Productions'
Love's Labour's Lost: The First Quarto. directed by Alex Dabertin.
Photo by James M. Smith. 

It's worth noting here that we have cut our current production of Love's Labour's Lost: The First Quarto to about 100 minutes. Through our experience producing plays in New York, we have learned that a running time of two hours is about as long as an audience is willing to sit without an intermission of some kind. As Bad Quarto Productions is devoted to re-creating the early modern play-going experience, we strive to present our plays without an intermission, and a ninety-minute running time is not without precedent, based on certain surviving texts from the period.

The Merry Devil of Edmonton, The Cronicle History of Henry the Fift, and The Life and Death of Jack Straw all have an approximate ninety-minute running time when performed at a speed of about twenty lines per minute, and when performed using Shakespearean staging conditions. Whatever the provenance of those other plays, the advertised expansion on the title page of Q1 Love's Labour's Lost invites the possibility that the original performance text was shorter than the one that was printed.

Or that may not have been the case. The 1598 quarto may contain lines excised from performance, and that Shakespeare merely added lines from his rough draft to the manuscript her gave Cuthebert Burby, the stationer. Perhaps more likely, Shakespeare may have provided Burby with his rough draft, and then Burby decided to include lines that Shakespeare had struck through. We must also consider the possibility that the advertisement itself is merely a marketing ploy, and there was no change between the performance text at court and the printed text in 1598. It is unlikely we will ever know the provenance of any text for certain, but given the available evidence from the early modern era, all of these scenarios are more likely than literary piracy.

The New Bibliographer's myth of literary piracy is dependent on the belief that Shakespeare was above his theatrical circumstances. The endurance of great works of art lies in their ability to be constantly re-read as culture changes. Hjort was part of a cohort of scholars looking to liberate "our Author" from the baseness of the playhouse and bestow on Shakespeare the gentlemanly status that Shakespeare himself coveted in life. Their author was for the scholar to study in his private library, and the process of alterations to a written script that most modern practitioners would recognize as "new play development" were received as corruptions to a text that was otherwise perfect and holy. Their task was to reveal the perfection of the manuscript beneath the text.

To Hjort, that the first quarto of Love's Labour's Lost is a pirated text sullied by performers or editors seems certain, but our knowledge of early modern playing conditions and printing conditions should accept no such certainty. What we know is what the available evidence allows for: that surviving play books vary widely in length is an easily observable fact, and it is likely that early modern companies sometimes performed shorter plays, and sometimes longer ones (Hirrel 169). Performed uncut, Q1 Love's Labour's Lost would likely run about 150 minutes; roughly 30 minutes longer than the running time of uncut Q1 Hamlet. 

King Ferdinand (Kitty Mortland, left) asks the newly crowned Queen
of France (Melody Lam) to delay her departure in a profession of earnest love
in Bad Quarto Productions' Love's Labour's Lost: The First Quarto.
Directed by Alex Dabertin. Photo by James M. Smith.

As MacDonald indicates, the perception of an evening of Shakespeare as a "serious commitment" is not entirely consistent with the way in which we at Bad Quarto Productions wanted to present Love's Labour's Lost: The First Quarto. While Love's Labour's Lost does treat seriously on the nature of promises, as Alex Dabertin astutely observed in his director's notes, that moment comes at the end of a light-hearted comedy of wit, wordplay, masquerades, and pageantry ("Bad Quarto Productions To Stage Earliest Version of LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST"). The heaviness comes only at the conclusion, where love manifests itself through the pain of denial, but that moment will inevitably lose some of it's potency if an audience accustomed to an 'NMNI' is focusing their thoughts on using the restroom or not missing their train.

Happily, scholarship has changed much in the past century, and the Author of the New Bibliographers is not ours -- our Shakespeare belongs to the theatre, and we can honor his writing and best explore his playsby performing them in the intersection between Shakespeare's theatre and our own. This means that we must proceed without making any special claims to truth that we know we can't possess, and learn to rejoice in the possibilities necessitated by the uncertainty that we've inherited. And yes, sometimes that means we need to make allowances for an audience most comfortable committing to a NMNI evening. For us at Bad Quarto Productions, the Shakespeare most worth sharing is the one that our audiences are willing to come to see.


"Bad Quarto Productions To Stage Earliest Version of LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST." 4 July 2017. Web. 21 Aug. 2017.

Billings, Timothy Ed. Love's Labour's Lost (Quarto I, 1598). By William Shakespeare. Internet Shakespeare Editions. University of Victoria. 21 Aug. 2017. Accessed 21 Aug. 2017. <>

Blayney, Peter W. M. "The Publication of Playbooks." A New History of Early English Drama. John D. Cox and David Scott Kastan Ed. New York: Columbia University Press. 1997. Print. p 383 - 422.

Burton, Gideon O. "Exergasia." Silva Rhetoricae. Provo: Brigham Young University. Web. Accessed 20 Aug. 2017.

The Cronicle Historie of Henry the Fift. By William Shakespeare Dir. Tony Tambasco. Bad Quarto Productions. 353 W. 48th St. Studios, New York. 12 Sept. 2010. Performance.

Hamlet: The First Quarto. By William Shakespeare. Dir. Tony Tambasco. Bad Quarto Productions. 353 W. 48th St. Studios, New York. 27 Apr. 2014. Performance.

Harbage, Alfred. "Love's Labour's Lost and the Early Shakespeare." Love's Labour's Lost: Critical Essays. Felicia Hardison Londre Ed. New York: Garland Publishing. 1997. p 193 - 211. Print.

Hirrel, Michael J. "Duration of Performances and Lengths of Plays: How Shall We Beguile the Lazy Time?" Shakespeare Quarterly. Vol 61. No 2. Summer 2010. p 159 - 182. Print.

Hjort, G. “The Good and Bad Quartos of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Love's Labour's Lost.’” The Modern Language Review, vol. 21, no. 2, 1926, pp. 140–146. JSTOR. Accessed 20 Aug. 2017.

The Life and Death of Jack Straw. Dir. Tony Tambasco. Bad Quarto Productions. 353 W. 48th St. Studios, New York. 13 Nov. 2016. Performance.

Love's Labour's Lost: The First Quarto. Dir. Alex Dabertin. Bad Quarto Productions. 353 W. 48th St. Studios, New York. 13 Aug. 2017. Performance.

MacDonald, Sandy. "The Secret of 'NMNI.'" TDF Stages. New York: Theatre Development Fund. 24 July 2017. Web. Accessed 20 Aug. 2017.

Maguire, Laurie E. Shakespearean Suspect Texts: The 'Bad' Quartos and their Contexts. Cambridge: University Press. 1996. Print.

The Merry Devil of Edmonton. Dir. Tony Tambasco. Bad Quarto Productions. Studios 1831, Philadelphia. 12 Sept. 2010. Performance.

Pollard, Alfred W. Shakespeare's Fight with the Pirates and the Problems of The Transmission of his Text. Cambridge: University Press. 2nd Ed. 1920. Web. The Internet Archive. Accessed 21 Aug 2017.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

How Lost is Love's Labour?

As Bad Quarto Productions stands ready to preview its production of Love's Labour's Lost: The First Quarto, our second production of the 2017 season, I keep coming back to something that's always nagged me about this comedy: how lost is love's labour really? Ferdinand and his men don't get to marry the Princess and her ladies at the end of the play as they had hoped, but they've all extracted a promise to marry when the gentlemen have made certain proofs of their characters to those ladies.

In early modern London, a promise to marry was legally binding in a way that modern marriage proposals are not. The abundance of pregnant brides in the period (including Anne Hathaway) is partially explained by the religious allowance that, for a marriage to be legitimate before God, all the couples needed to do was to make a solemn promise to each other before God: neither the church nor state were necessarily involved in what could be considered a private matter (Dolan 622). These promises were legally enforceable in church courts, however, and it seems unlikely that the sober-minded Princess of France and her equally pragmatic ladies would make such promises in vain, even if state marriages were of a different order than common ones (Dolan 622). The labours of love that Ferdinand and his men are enjoined to have not even begun by the play's conclusion, but the rewards for their successful completions seems certain.

As for the labours that Ferdinand and his men have already undertaken? The Princess (by then Queen) and her ladies interpret them:
At courtshyp pleasant iest and courtecie,
As bombast and as lyning to the time:
But more deuout then this our respectes,
Haue we not been, and therefore met your Loues,
In their owne fashyon like a merriment.
        (TLN 2738 - 2742)
Ferdinand and his men have presented their love as trifles (literally), not as something sacred, and the ladies have replied in kind. As is typical in Shakespeare's comedies, as we see see in virtually all of them, women are masters of the art of love, and serve as tutors to their undergraduate gentlemen.

What makes this lesson particularly poignant is that, in director Alex Dabertin's analysis, the King of France sends his daughter on this embassy to Ferdinand with the idea of a political marriage in mind. This reading is in keeping with Boyet's lines:
Now Maddame summon vp your dearest spirrits,
Cosider who the King your father sendes:
To whom he sendes, and whats his Embassie.
Your selfe, helde precious in the worldes esteeme,
To parlee with the sole inheritoure
Of all perfections that a man may owe,
Matchles Nauar, the plea of no lesse weight,
Then Aquitaine a Dowrie for a Queene.
        (TLN 492 - 499).
And it is certainly within the realpolitik of the period. But at the end of the play, she is Queen of France, and not merely princess, and knowing the professed truth of Ferdinand's love, is able to force him to Biblical terms: if Ferdinand truly loves her, following the example of Genesis 29:20, his year of labour will only seem a few days, and they will enjoy more than a political match.

That said, one could plausibly read the title as a promise that Ferdinand and his gentlemen will fail in their yet-to-be-performed labours. How you view the loss of love's labour in the play is, in this way, a measure of your own feelings as to the truth of Ferdinand, Longaville, Dumain, and Berowne's love.


Billings, Timothy Ed. Love's Labour's Lost (Quarto I, 1598). By William Shakespeare. Internet Shakespeare Editions. University of Victoria. 5 Aug. 2017. Accessed 5 Aug. 2017. <>

Dolan, Frances. "Shakespeare and Marriage: An Open Question." Literature Compass. 9 Aug. 2011. Hoboken: Blackwell Publishing. 620 - 634. Web. Accessed 4 Aug. 2017. <>

Geneva Bible, 1599 Edition. Tolle Lege Press, 2006. Web. Accessed 5 Aug. 2017. <>  

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Meet the company of Love's Labour's Lost: The First Quarto

We're excited to open Love's Labour's Lost: The First Quarto on August 12th, and we think it's about time you met our company for the show....

Amy Hayes, Audrey Brown, Courtney M. McClellan, Kevin Dang, Kitty Mortland, Marcella Pereda, Martin Goldberg, Max Stein, Melody Lam, Natasha Cole, Olivia Vessel, Elizabeth Kipp-Giusti, Rebekah Carrow, Samantha Burkland, and Alex Dabertin; The company of Bad Quarto Productions' upcoming Love's Labour's Lost: The First Quarto
Amy Hayes, Audrey Brown, Courtney M. McClellan, Kevin Dang, Kitty Mortland,
Marcella Pereda, Martin Goldberg, Max Stein, Melody Lam, Natasha Cole,
Olivia Vessel, Elizabeth Kipp-Giusti, Rebekah Carrow, Samantha Burkland, and Alex Dabertin;
The company of Bad Quarto Productions' upcoming Love's Labour's Lost: The First Quarto

Amy Hayes
 (HolfernesAmerica Is Hard to See, Life Jacket Theatre, NYC.  Regional: Hesther, Equus (Oldcastle Theatre); Mistress Ford, Merry Wives of Windsor (IndyShakes); Gertrude, Hamlet (Indianapolis); Tour Guide/Doctor, No Exit’s Middletown (Indy), Hermione, The Winter’s Tale (Indy Shakes), Mama,Distracted, Wisdom Tooth Theatre (Indy), Jasmine, Chris White’s Thawat Indyfringe.  Film and TV: Mrs. Samuelson in The Celebrant with Rae Dawn Chong and Reparation with Jon Huertas. Artistic Director, Wisdom Tooth Theatre Project.  Recording Projects: Some Things Never Change, Hidden Graces (Spring House); Books: A Collection of Wednesdays (Zondervan/Harper Collins).

Audrey Brown (Longaville) Going three years strong as a New York based actor, Audrey is elated to be cast in her first Bad Quarto Production play. Audrey moved from Nevada to attend the Lee Strasberg Institute after graduating with a BA in Theatre and International Affairs. Before making her move east, she discovered her love for Shakespeare and classical theatre after working with Shakespearean Actor, Author and producer, Ben Crystal in a production of Hamlet. This experience ignited a love for the language and ensemble work that couldn’t have been found anywhere else. Audrey was most recently on set of Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as well as in a production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot by Stephen Adly Guirgis. Special shout out and all the love to my family who have taught me the true meaning and importance of perseverance and support.

Courtney M. McClellan (Berowne) is an actor/voiceover artist, graphic designer, teaching artist, and Artistic Associate at Bad Quarto Productions. Courtney is also a proud Equity Member Candidate. Recent credits include What Lamb, What Ladybird! and The Life and Death of Jack Straw with Bad Quarto Productions, Garbage Person Karaoke with the Capital Fringe Festival (Washington D.C.), As You Like It (La Belle/Phoebe) with Shakespeare Off-Broadway, Whatchamacallit and, "Luck Bar Scene," and "No Plan B" with the Skeleton Rep, and Ripper at Times Scare. BA Communications/Theatre, Hampton University; McCaskill Studios, NYC.

Kevin Dang (Katherine) is a native of Dallas, TX. He has recently worked on the TV show Gotham and was in The Madness of Hercules at the New York Euripides Summer Festival as the Messenger. He is a proud member of the Asian-American activist community and is striving for equality and representation on stage and screen.

Kitty Mortland (Ferdinand) is excited to be working with Bad Quarto for a second time, having previously played the Queen in Hamlet: The First Quarto. She recently played the title character in King Lear (What Dreams May Co), appeared in Measure for Measure (Hudson Warehouse), As You Like It (Folding Chair Classical Theatre), and repertory productions of Richard II and Romeo and Juliet (Hamlet Isn't Dead). Kitty also played the title character in Hamlet: The Series, available on YouTube. Originally from Chicago, she appeared there in Down & Derby (The New Colony), Devour (20% Theatre Chicago), and the Jeff Nominated The Bad Seed: The Musical (Corn Productions).  When not on stage, Kitty is also a singer/songwriter who played venues across the Chicagoland area including the Elbo Room, the Underground Lounge, and Reggie's Rock Club. DFTBA.

Marcella Pereda (Don Armado) is excited to be back at Bad Quarto after appearing as Ismenus in this season's Cupid's Revenge. Some of her recent credits include the world premier of Remington and Weasle (Kim Luna) at PYGmalion Productions, Peter Pan (Tiger Lily) at Utah Children's Theatre, The Skin of Our Teeth (Gladys) at the Grand Theatre, and A Few Good Men(Joanne Galloway u/s) at Pioneer Memorial Theatre.

Martin Goldberg (Nathaniel)  is a NYC native and graduate of Brooklyn College. He has attended classes at HB Studio, Penny Templeton Studios, and the Upright Citizens Brigade. Marty’s credits include the Love Creek Productions of Classy Shorts, An Evening with Le Wilhelm, Rubicon Crossed, and Masqurade Asylum, The Manhattan Repertory’s productions of Some Squeaking Cleopatra Boy, A Thousand Words, Exhume Yourself, and Tales of Terror (The Hand),  the AlphaNYC Production of Ceiling Art and And Then There Were None, and the Firebird Youth Theatre’s production of Romeo and Juliet.

Max Stein (Rosaline) Max has enjoyed living and acting in New York City for the last ten years. Before that he trained with the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, and attained a B.A. in Theatre at Wittenberg University. He has enjoyed working with companies including The Actor's Project and The Michael Chekov Theatre Company, and is currently a member of The Complete Theatre Company. Thanks for coming to see him do what he loves!

Melody Lam (Princess of France) is classically trained with a focus on Shakespeare and Anton Chekhov. She has studied at various studios across NYC including Stella Adler and Michael Howard. Credits include Lady Macbeth in Macbeth with Theater2020, Ariel in The Tempest and Dorine in Tartuffe. Film credits include Red Plastic Bag. Melody is a trained vocalist and contemporary dancer, and speaks Mandarin, Cantonese and French. 

Natasha Cole (Costard) is thrilled to make her Bad Quarto debut! She is proud ensemble member of Providence-based Out Loud Theatre and is a current cast member of the international tour of Kultar's Mime. She recently graduated Hofstra University with a BFA in Acting. 

Olivia Vessel (Moth) is excited to be performing with Bad Quarto Productions! Recent credits include Jeanie in Hair (Heights Players), Miss White in Clue: The Musical (West End Lounge), and Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Salt Lake Shakespeare). You may have also seen her performing her original one woman show, Olivia's Corner, a satire about a children's show host teaching kids about adult themes, performed at various comedy clubs in NYC.

Elizabeth Kipp-Giusti (Dumainis a strategic, multidisciplinary performer and programming developer invested in honoring communities in the city with effective, creative policy and programming.  A New York City native, she values the intersection of education and history as foundation for building institutions. Elizabeth received a BA in Religion, with a concentration in Human Rights from Columbia University and graduated with a MA in Arts Politics from NYU-Tisch. She is the grant writer for The Public Theater. Many thanks and endless love to my partner, Alex Dabertin.

Rebekah Carrow (Boyet/Dull) is an actor and playwright in New York City. Her first play, Mary V, just finished its first run at Theater for the New City. She is an alumni of Atlantic Studio's Evening Conservatory program. She has performed throughout New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Virginia.   

Samantha Renèe Burkard (Maria/Jacquenetta) is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and has lived in New York for the past year, pursuing her passions for music, acting, and Shakespeare. Recently, she has been working with Titan Theatre Company as a Young Company member, which has expanded her love and knowledge of Shakespeare sevenfold. She is thrilled to be appearing for the first time with Bad Quarto Productions, and hopes you enjoy the show! 

Alex Dabertin (Director) is an artistic associate at Bad Quarto Productions. Alex was recently seen in Bad Quarto's productions of Cupid's Revenge as Leucippus, 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

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.