Play On! is the official podcast of the Utah Shakespeare Festival. The excerpt transcribed below is from an interview of Dr. Travis Curtright and Mary Curtright about love (both in Shakespeare’s plays and the lives of those that perform his works), their production research process, and what they lovingly call “troupe life.”

(Continued from Part 2)

Emily: Why do we like to see love depicted on stage?

Dr. Travis Curtright: That is a great question. I think the simple answer is that love stories make great plays. We can think of stories about how lovers must conquer obstacles to be together, or stories about sexual and dramatic tensions between people with different personalities, who nevertheless find themselves attracted to one another. These stories work in other artistic forms as well, but for a playwright like William Shakespeare, love stories were magnificent, rich resource for characters, dialogue, readymade plots and conflicts, and ways to heighten emotion on stage. People sometimes joke that the only successful marriage Shakespeare depicted was that of the Macbeths, but we forget how powerful courtship in love stories is. For Shakespeare, marriages come at the end of love stories as a fitting, happy conclusion. So I think he was drawn to love because, as a dramatist, he couldn’t resist the muses of sexual tension, surprising turns in passionate relationships, and even the mystery of why love so moves us. 

Emily: How has Shakespeare’s work informed our ideas about love, and your ideas about love?

Dr. Travis Curtright: I think of Shakespeare’s influence more in terms of his use of language; he dresses ideas of love beautifully, even if those ideas didn’t originate with him. Olivia in Twelfth Night neatly captures the idea of love as a surprising, wonderful, generous gift when she says “love sought is good, but given unsought better.” Othello reveals how compassion can form the basis of romantic attachment in his explanation of how Desdemona came to love him: “she loved me for the dangers that I had passed, and I loved her that she did pity them.” Romeo gives us a sense of his beloved’s spectacular presence, how it meant to him to first see her, when he first approaches Juliet and touches her hand: “if I profane with my unworthiest hand this holy shrine, the gentle sin is this: my lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.” And Juliet herself later summarizes the importance of constancy in love when she tells Romeo, “my bounty is as boundless as the sea. My love is deep; the more I give to thee, the more I have for both are infinite.”

Be not afraid! The remainder of this podcast will be added soon.