Fiasco Theater
Shakespeare’s ‘Measure for Measure’

Fiasco Theater

Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure


Founded in 2007, this six-person company, the Fiasco Theater, is renowned for its dynamic, actor-focused style and lapidary productions of Shakespeare, whose elaborately plotted romance Cymbeline sings out with utter clarity in Fiasco’s capable hands. Over a swift-moving 150 minutes, with plenty of witty music and dynamic action, the “lucid, modest performances let the comedy, poignancy, and unlikely magic surface” (The New York Times).

But Cymbeline, performed February 2-4, was just the beginning of Fiasco’s almost three-week residency with Duke Performances, which ran from January 31 to February 19, 2012.

They also hunkered down in Sheafer Theater to develop and rehearse their new adaptation of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, giving two workshop readings in the intimate black-box theater. The residency was a rare opportunity for behind-the-scenes engagement with an ascendant young company celebrated for its resourcefulness and dramatic brio.

We have spent the past two weeks investigating the text of Measure for Measure and how we might approach the play if Fiasco were to do a production. This residency has been a wonderful opportunity to work on the play without an agenda or end-result in mind, giving us the freedom to ask questions without having to resolve them. And indeed, perhaps Will’s point in this play is that there is no easy answer to the complicated questions of justice, righteousness, power, and promiscuity examined in the text, and so we may never arrive at concrete answers in any case. In the reading, you will hear a few scenes and songs on which we’ve worked and experimented. We hope you enjoy Shakespeare’s text as much as we enjoying sharing it with you here.

—Fiasco Theater


Fiasco Theater was a co-presentation of Duke Performances and Duke Theater Studies.

Fiasco Theater’s residency was made possible, in part, by a Visiting Artist Grant from the Council for the Arts, Office of the Provost, Duke University. In addition, Fiasco Theater’s residency was made possible, in part, with support from the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.


  • The New York Times, In a Decadent Vienna, Constancy Is Shown the Doors
  • Time Out, Measure for Measure
  • Hartford Courant, Long Wharf’s ‘Measure For Measure’ Leaves ‘Em Laughing
  • CVNC, Fiasco Theater Brings Critically Hailed Production of Cymbeline to Duke Performances after Extended Off-Broadway Run