Shakespeare comes to the Pulitzer with a tale of love’s deconstruction | St. Louis Public Radio

Shakespeare comes to the Pulitzer with a tale of love’s deconstruction

Aug 17, 2016

The Pulitzer Arts Foundation will take on a new role this weekend — as the stage for an original play.

The Pulitzer and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis are teaming up to present a play called “Love’s Labor.”  The production weaves together words from the Bard and  modern-day language in a story about a couple on the brink of divorce.

“Love’s Labor” begins inside the institution’s “4562 Enright Avenue” exhibition, made from the bones of an abandoned north St. Louis home installed last month in the Pulitzer’s main gallery. Bruce Longworth, associate artistic director of Shakespeare St. Louis, said he wrote the play with a series of questions in mind.

“What constitutes a home?" Longworth asked. "What’s the difference between a house and a home?”

Further questions include: What keeps a family together? What has the potential to break a family up? What is the relationship between family and where they live and what they experience in life?

A taste for the unusual

The cast of Love's Labor includes violinist and narrator Laura Sexauer, Mariah Studebaker and Meghan Baker as the younger and older wife and Michael James Reed and Zak Moran as the older and younger husband.
Credit Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

A violinist leads the way as the actors move through the Pulitzer to more displays, including “The Ordinary Must Not Be Dull: Claes Oldenburg’s Soft Sculptures.”

Oldenburg’s words within the title of the exhibition find their way into the play, after it moves to an area of the museum featuring his work.

It’s all part of Longworth’s goal to deeply immerse the play into the exhibitions. He didn’t want visitors to think “Love’s Labor” could be staged in any other location.

“That would be a problem,” Longworth said.

Kristin Fleischmann Brewer directs public projects at the Pulitzer.
Credit The Pulitzer

Kristin Fleischmann Brewer, the Pulitzer’s director of public projects, points to the play as a good example of effective partnership.

“Collaborations work the best when one partner couldn’t do the project without the other, where you’re truly bringing your expertise together to do something that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to,” Brewer said.

“Love’s Labor” is on stage this Friday through Sunday and next weekend. Every showing is sold out and has a waiting list. Longworth said that says a lot about what local theater-goers want to see.

“That there’s a taste for unusual theater event in St. Louis — and that doesn’t surprise me,” Longworth said.

Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL