An adapted version of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure will open the Genesius Guild’s 2021 season with performances at 7 p.m. on June 19, 20, 26, and 27.

Genesius Guild Back to Live Theater This Weekend in Rock Island for First Time in Two YearsAll performances are held at the Don Wooten Stage in Lincoln Park, 1120 40th St., Rock Island, and admission is free. Opening weekend marks the Genesius Guild’s return to live theater after cancelling the 2020 season.

Sometimes known as one of Shakespeare’s problem plays – shows that are not explicitly comedies or tragedies – Measure for Measure is a “fascinating exploration of how power can corrupt, with comedic overtones,” according to a Genesius Guild release.

“The play’s characters are complex creatures – even the principal character and hero of the show, Duke Vincentio, has an unsavory tendency to manipulate other characters,” the company says.

Genesius Guild Back to Live Theater This Weekend in Rock Island for First Time in Two Years

Live theater is returning to Rock Island‘s Lincoln Park for free productions this month and next on Saturdays and Sundays, starting at 7 p.m.

In the story, Vienna’s Duke Vincentio announces that he is going to retire from public rule for a while, leaving Angelo in his place. He is called a “prenzie” — a person arrogantly proud of his virtue. Angelo immediately starts on a reckless course of rigorous law enforcement, bringing Claudio under threat of execution for getting his fiancée, Juliet, pregnant.

Claudio sends for his sister, Isabella, who is about to enter a convent, to plead his case. Angelo’s surprising response sets the plot in motion. What he doesn’t know is that the Duke remains in Vienna, disguised as a friar, to see how his deputy behaves in office and to learn something of the lower classes in his dukedom.

Complications ensue, frequently made more difficult by the disguised Duke’s behavior.

The new adaptation is by Kevin Rich, who teaches theater at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Genesius Guild Back to Live Theater This Weekend in Rock Island for First Time in Two Years

Kevin Rich, former artistic director of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, created an abridged adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure.”

He served as the artistic director of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival from 2012-17, producing Shakespeare’s plays including an all-male original practices production of Much Ado About Nothing, and Hamlet starring Deborah Staples in the title role.

He launched a new work initiative, leading to productions such as Failure: A Love Story by Philip Dawkins, Love’s Labor’s Won by Scott Kaiser, and the commission and premiere of I Heart Juliet, a hip-hop adaptation of Romeo and Juliet by the internationally-acclaimed Q Brothers, which he directed.

Since the Covid-19 era, Genesius Guild has made a few adjustments to guarantee audience and participant safety, no matter what happens with vaccine distribution and Covid variants, according to www.genesius.org. Here are some details:

  • The season is abridged, starting in mid-June, rather than the start of June, to give more time for vaccine distribution and allow the crew a less compact stage construction schedule.
  • Shows will start at 7 p.m. and will be 90 minutes or less. This will remove the need for stage lighting, significantly reducing our crew’s setup and teardown time.
  • Audience capacity will be smaller – they will put out fewer chairs, with social distancing between groups of seats.
  • Audience members will be encouraged to wear masks.
  • All shows will have small casts so they can maintain social distancing on stage as well as off stage.
Genesius Guild Back to Live Theater This Weekend in Rock Island for First Time in Two Years

A scene from Genesius Guild‘s 2012 production of “Measure for Measure.”

The schedule for this summer is:

June 19, 20, 26, 27
Shakespeare: “Measure for Measure” — Adapted and abridged by Kevin Rich

July 3, 4, 10, 11
Shakespeare & Don Wooten: “Shakespeare’s Life In His Works”

July 17, 18, 24, 25
Euripides: “Hippolytus” — translated by Ian Johnston

The Genesius Guild is a community theatre organization that specializes in free classical drama. Founded in 1956, the group performs Greek drama, Greek comedy, the works of Shakespeare, and other classical authors every weekend throughout the summer.

For more information, visit www.genesius.org.

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Genesius Guild Back to Live Theater This Weekend in Rock Island for First Time in Two Years
Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.