Traditional comedy receives Latin twist

By Diego Olivares

The East Los Angeles College Theatre Department makes final preparations for its upcoming show, “Measure for Measure.”

The play is the second production of the 2016 spring semester. This follows the last play, “Run for your Wife.”

Directed by ELAC Theatre instructor Ramon Ramos, the play is written by William Shakespeare. It is one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known works.

The play, written in 1604, was also the first performed in public. It is referred to by many critics as one of Shakespeare’s problem plays.

This refers to Shakespeare’s plays that mix light-hearted comedy with psychologically dark drama.

Many people refer to “Measure to Measure” as a comedy.

“The only reason it’s called a comedy is because it has a happy ending,” Ramos said, “but it’s more of a dark comedy.”

This is Ramos’ first ELAC play as a solo director. “Kelley Hogan proposed ‘Measure for Measure’ and she suggested me to direct, and I went along with it,” Ramos said

Much like last year’s, “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Measure for Measure” changes both location and time setting.

The setting for this version is 1950s Cuba, which is pre-Cuban Missile Crisis. “I’ve seen it done in different ways,” Ramos said, “it has a lot of themes that are close to society.”

Production of the play started last year. “Auditions started in November,” assistant stage manager Andrea Saucedo said.

The cast has over 12 actors who are ELAC students. There are also over 20 crew members, many of whom are also ELAC students and staff.

After auditions, the cast spends over seven to eight weeks rehearsing. Rehearsals started in February of this year.

“It’s been good, I know these people,   they’re like family to me,” Saucedo said.

For Beatriz Tasha,who plays the lead character Isabella, this production is her first ELAC play.

“It’s enlightening because I never thought acting has such a dynamic,” Tasha said, “It’s connected to life and fantasy.”

Jessica Hansen, the costume shop manager and adjunct theater professor, also serves as the dance coach for the play.

Hansen has a background in ballroom dancing and has also worked on “Much Ado About Nothing.”

“I’m faculty here,” Hansen said. “I’m involved in every production we do here.”

While the play is not a musical, music and dance serve as important aspects to the story. “The dancing the actors are doing is Latin Mambo, like in the ballroom.” Hansen said.

Hansen spent three hours coaching the actors, who enjoyed the training. Hansen also made sure that the actors remained in character during the dance sequences.

“You should dance like your character, not like yourself.” Hansen said as the cast and crew make final preparations as the show nears its first premiere.

“Measure for Measure” premieres on April 22 at 8 p.m. at the Black Box Theatre in the P2 Building. Tickets are $10 online and pre-show and $12 at the door.

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