Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall ...
by William Shakespeare
directed by Alex Monti Fox
July 21–July 30, 2023
The ARTS at Marks Garage
This play, published in the First Folio of 1623, is problematic. It reflects a deeply flawed culture at odds with itself. We have tried to honor the playwright and his perspective on that culture, while attempting to reconcile (and embrace) the discomfort that results from doing so in 2023.
Positions on justice, mercy, power, belief, abuse, sexuality, law, liberty, agency, governance, religion, autonomy, anxiety, manipulation, morality, cruelty, compassion, truth and lies are put forth throughout the telling of this story. These are all serious topics, yet the play is structured as a comedy. Though some of the above are frequent targets of satire, the conflict at the heart of the play (Isabella’s arc) cannot be so. What’s more, the play’s traditional ending, as written, is entirely unsatisfactory when viewed through a contemporary lens. This is at the heart of the play’s many problems. Consequently, as positions on these topics have evolved, so must our approaches to representing them on stage, as must our consideration of the play as an audience.
If this play makes you laugh in moments, and then makes you furious, if it makes you think, only to then provoke extreme discomfort, this is good. These are seemingly its aims. We have explored this fictional representation of the past so that we may reflect upon, and try to make sense of our present reality. If our doing so inspires your action, personal or public, this is also good. Here we are in the 21st century, four hundred years since the play’s publication. Our deeply flawed culture is at odds with itself. Some people laugh, many are furious, few think, most are extremely uncomfortable. Four hundred years from now, will our descendants feel the same?
On a personal note, I would like to dedicate this production to the memory of my mother, Angela Monti Fox, whose life inspired every choice.
—Alex Monti Fox
In his years teaching, creating, promoting and performing theater in Hawai‘i, Professor Knapp touched thousands of lives. While he tackled a wide variety of theatrical projects, it was Professor Knapp’s boundless joy for teaching and presenting Shakespeare that we hope to honor with this festival. It is our sincere wish that our affection and respect for our beloved teacher finds a voice in these productions. The Hawaii Shakespeare Festival is dedicated to Terence Knapp.
—R. Kevin Garcia Doyle, Tony Pisculli, Harry Wong III
Dame Judi Dench, Companion of Honour by the Queen’s personal gift and Britain’s Most Outstanding Actress (as voted by her peers) has consented to be the Patron of the Hawaii Shakespeare Festival at the invitation of Terence Knapp.