Shakespeare Santa Cruz delivers ‘Love’s Labor’s Lost’ Adler_Marion
People always say you should never mix business with pleasure. But Shakespeare Santa Cruz director Scott Wentworth and his leading lady onstage and in life, actress Marion Adler, could not disagree more.
After nearly 24 years of marriage, the Stratford, Ontario natives will head up the production of “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” opening July 24 at UC Santa Cruz’ Festival Glen. While theatergoers will recognize Wentworth for his role as Nick Bottom in last season’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” or Brutus in “Julius Caesar,” this year he will work solely behind the scenes as director, giving Adler her chance in the spotlight as the Princess of France.
Known as Shakespeare’s most modern comedy, the play centers on King Ferdinand of Navarre and his three noble lords who have sworn off women in favor of their studies. As you can imagine, that plan flies out the door as soon as the Princess of France arrives with her entourage of beautiful young women, and the drooling men fall head over heels in love.
Though it’s less well known than Shakespeare’s other masterpieces, Adler maintains that “Love’s Labor’s Lost” is something that any theatergoer can enjoy, regardless of their understanding of Elizabethan English. “It’s like an hors d’oeuvres tray of Shakespeare’s other plays—there’s some comedy within a comedy like in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ a battle of wits in ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ and it might just be his most romantic play,” she says.
But don’t worry. Wentworth is convinced that you will go home happy, despite the fact that the females in the play always seem to know what’s right. “Women will drag their husbands to it, but men will enjoy it too,” he says of the play. “It’s very funny.”
The couple was drawn to the play not only because of the entertaining plot, but also because they would have a chance to work together. While most couples would cringe at the thought of working in such close quarters, Wentworth and Adler have collaborated throughout their marriage—writing plays, acting and directing one another—and love what it does for their dynamic.
“You meet a lot of people who say, ‘I could not work with my spouse,’ but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” says Adler, who admits that she fell in love with her husband first as an actor and then as a person. “In the theater especially, you’re always traveling and you don’t always have that domestic center that other families do.”
It is for this reason, that the two are thrilled to have their 15-year-old son Ned also in the cast of “Love’s Labor’s Lost.” An avid theater buff and actor himself, Ned—who attended his first New York acting workshop when he was only 4 months old—will join the small company of eight interns in the ensemble. Though his parents hope his experience at Shakespeare Santa Cruz will give him a taste of what it’s like to be in professional theater, Ned claims he’s already made up his mind. “I’m dead set on this career, despite my parents’ efforts to dissuade me,” he laughs.
Of course, part of the reason for his parents’ apprehension is the brutal realities that actors face, particularly in times of economic strife. But despite Wentworth’s negative memories of the near-closing of Shakespeare Santa Cruz last year due to the recession, and his inability to find work, he believes that he is fortunate to have made a living in theater and could not imagine his family life any differently.
“What’s unique is that no matter how frustrating or fabulous a rehearsal can be, we all come home and it continues to consume us,” says Wentworth. But the family agrees that it is not always a bad thing to go on collaborating at dinner, as some of their best ideas have blossomed after leaving the theater. “Someone will have a ‘eureka’ in the middle of a martini,” Adler says.
It is during these familial brainstorm sessions that Wentworth finds inspiration as a director. While he has dedicated the last eight years to acting, he is anxious to move back behind the scenes particularly for “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” a play that few people have read or seen.
“It’s nice to have a Shakespeare play that you can approach in a fresh way because it’s not performed all that often,” says Wentworth. “There’s less pressure on the actors and the director because you don’t have people wondering how it will be presented this time, like they do for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’”
Part of Wentworth’s goal with “Love’s Labor’s Lost” is to confront the audience’s apprehension about Shakespeare that they may have acquired in school, and to demonstrate how contemporary the language really is. “Shakespeare has a bad rap,” he says. “I think sometimes we end up putting on productions for people who see lots of productions, and we make him inaccessible—when in reality, he is one of the most accessible playwrights out there.”
Although Wentworth admits that it is a language-dense play, he encourages people to come and “actively participate in creating this magical world,” for at the core of the drama is a universal message that everyone can relate to, about people trying to love one another. “We’re on a reclamation mission to take Shakespeare off the shelf and dust him off,” he says.
For more information about the play, visit shakespearesantacruz.com.