“Pandemics are Foul, Theater is Fair”
Wyrd Sisters Shakespeare Society is an online performance group formed by several Shakespeare-loving friends in April of 2020 as an artistic response to the COVID 19 pandemic. The Society consists of womxn-identifying artists in the Maryland/DC/Pennsylvania/Virginia communities who regularly work for such prestigious companies as Strand Theater, the Maryland Renaissance Festival, Son of York Shakespeare Company, Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Fells Point Corner Theatre, and others. WSSS looks to provide access to entertainment while we’re on lock-down and take donations to benefit theaters and projects in need.
“…the Wyrd Sisters are making some extremely tasty lemonade from the lemons of our age.”
Following their triumphal debut with last month’s “Twelfth Night,” the Sisters returned on June 4th with a live-streamed performance of “Measure for Measure,” with solicited donations to benefit Laurel-based Venus Theatre. Melissa McGinley directed a brisk-paced and highly spirited presentation of the classic, featuring a cast of several Baltimore favorites along with a few new faces. As we’re all growing accustomed to seeing in this new delivery format, the actors appear “Brady Bunch” matrixed on screen together, but not content to accept the bare minimum of production values provided by Zoom. To adapt to this, WSSS has added visual elements such as desktop wallpaper serving as scenic design. An amount of makeup and costuming is employed. Video switching is used to group and re-group characters for each scene. These enhancements to the now-typical stream presentation are helpful and fun, even as unavoidable technical glitches sometimes interfere… “My friend, I cannot hear you. [art thou on mute?]”
It’s an unfortunate reality that COVID-era productions force artists to act only from the shoulders up – that video and audio quality are governed by whatever equipment individual performers have in their homes – and worst of all, that actors and audiences alike are isolated from each other even while sharing the communal experience. But in these limitations are also the greatest successes of our art form. The theater has always, and will always find a way. Like all the companies who are soldiering on right now, the Wyrd Sisters are making some extremely tasty lemonade from the lemons of our age.
Among the cast, Kathy Vary deserves special mention for hilarious work as the constable Elbow and prison inmate Bernardine. Bethany Mayo delivers the goods with consistent strength in the role of Provost. Heather O’Shaughnessy is moustache-twirlingly evil as the dastardly Angelo, in hot pursuit of the hopeless Isabella (Emily Karol), while Cheryl Campo is forceful and compelling as the drama’s fulcrum, Duke Vicentio.
Wyrd Sisters’ “Measure” was a sweet uncleanness whose false o’erweighed our true.
Running Time: Two hours and six minutes.
“Measure for Measure” was performed on June 4, 2020 as a live stream. Its recording can be viewed on the Wyrd Sisters Shakespeare Society’s YouTube page here.