William Shakespeare's Love's Labor's Lost was the thesis production of the MFA Acting Class of 2011, featuring Merrie Jane Brackin, Corey Bright, Will Cespedes, Catherine Copplestone, David Fierro, Emily Gleeson, Nate Grams, Shang-Ho Huang, Whitney Morse, Nuah Ozryel, Grayson Powell, Mary Schneider, Esdras Zenas Toussaint, and Shelley Virginia.
It was presented November 11-21, 2010 at The Riverside Theatre, in repertory with Chekhov's Three Sisters. Both productions were directed by Andrei Serban, Theatre Arts Professor and Director of the Oscar Hammerstein II Center for Theatre Studies.
Known for his iconoclastic interpretations of classic plays, Serban has had great international success, presenting acclaimed productions at Lincoln Center, the A.R.T., the Public Theater, the Metropolitan Opera and La MaMa as well as at numerous international houses. His seminal production of The Cherry Orchard at Lincoln Center in 1977 was hailed by the New York Times as “a celebration of genius, like the cleaning of a great painting, a fresh exposition of an old philosophy.” Serban is known for re-invigorating the classics while honoring the text, saying, “We need to find new images that are fresh. It’s interesting for me to try something traditional and still to keep it alive, surprising.”
Serban, who heads the Acting MFA program at Columbia University School of the Arts, occasionally encounters a class of students with whom he particularly connects. Fifteen years ago he directed a graduate thesis production of Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle at La MaMa where it received glowing reviews: “Thanks to Mr. Serban’s nimble staging ... and the passion of a disciplined troupe of graduate acting students from Columbia University, this revival comes as pleasant a surprise as an unexpected day off from school ... There is a piquant immediacy, a poignant freshness, in the actors’ portrayals that suits Brecht’s see-through characters” (The New York Times).
Serban feels that the MFA Acting Class of 2011 is just as promising: he reorganized his schedule to work particularly long hours with the students. These productions represent a unique artistic collaboration that has come into being as a result of the class’s prolonged training.
Love's Labor's Lost was presented as part of Columbia Stages, the producing arm of Columbia University School of the Arts Theatre Arts Program.