A discussion with ‘Isabella’ and ‘the Duke’

Photo courtesy of the URI theatre department

As the University of Rhode Island’s Theatre production of “Measure for Measure” continues on its hard-working path to the stage, the Cigar was able to sit down with two members of the cast to discuss this month’s upcoming production.

The play’s actors, Emily MacLean and Katherine Templeton, star as Isabella and the Duke. MacLean has been seen in last fall’s play, “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” and was an understudy during “Good People,” last year. She says this year is like her victory lap. Templeton was also in “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” as well as having partook in “School for Lies” last February.  

When asked ‘what was most appealing about the show to them,’ MacLean responded saying, “What isn’t! I love how it still works today,” even though it was written in the Elizabethan era. MacLean went on to say that she loves all the things it comments on, like government and sexual assault. Templeton added that while people can be intimidated by the Shakespearean language the story and the characters are extremely contemporary and it certainly works as a representation of today’s society.

The Duke and Isabella are two very important characters in the play, and the two actors said they love their characters. MacLean said that she really loves how Isabella fights back against this higher, stronger power and how her fear of losing her brother motivates her to gather the strength to fight back. Isabella could never beat “the amount of power against her, but she tries and it means so much.” Templeton described the Duke as a man with a good heart. Although this heart of his sometimes leads him astray, it is comforting to know that he cares about people, specifically those in his city.

While these characters are enjoyable to play, they each come with their own set of difficulties. “There’s a lot of lines!” Templeton exclaimed, while describing the numerous changes her character goes through during the play. The Duke is dealing with a new emotion or problem in nearly every act. Templeton says she really has to own her character because she is always building off the previous acts.

As for MacLean, it is interesting because usually when a person thinks of a nun they think of them as weak, and all they do is pray to the Lord, but Isabella proves to be quite the opposite. “The thing everyone forgets about acting is that you’re a person playing a person,” said MacLean. “They aren’t a flat piece of cardboard, it’s important to bring them to life.” MacLean truly turns Isabella into a strong young woman.

When asked if either actress would like to add anything, they each took the opportunity to encourage students to “come see the show!” with MacLean adding that their genius director, Rachel Walshe, as well as the other actors and crew involved have created something so beautiful and creative. They are all excited to share this world that they have created with the audience.

The URI Theatre’s production of William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” will be performed in J Studio of the Fine Arts Center during the weekends of Feb. 22 to 24 and March 1 to 3 at 7:30 p.m., as well as Sundays Feb. 25 and March 4 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets: $20 General, $15 Seniors, URI Faculty/Staff and Students.

Photos courtesy of Katherine Templeton (pictured left) and Emily MacLean (pictured right).