Muggli Involved in Theatre/Dance Productions

Professor of English Mark Muggli’s second year as the Dennis M. Jones Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities has been busy. This semester’s projects have included three Shakespeare productions: the early October theatre PRODUCTION Much Ado About Nothing, the November DANCE PROGRAM, A Tragedy Like Macbeth, and the “Shakespeare Performed” class’s December PERFORMANCE of Twelfth Night.

Muggli served as dramaturg of the theater/dance production, A Tragedy Like Macbeth, which played in November at Jewel Theater in Luther’s Center for the Arts. Muggli edited the play to focus on ten key scenes to convey the play’s narrative and several key textual passages to convey its powerful language. Jane Hawley, Associate Professor of Theater/Dance, choreographed the production. Other Theater/Dance members were Assistant Professor Lisa Lantz (costume design), Technical Director Tom Berger (scenic design), and Professor Jeff Dintaman (lighting design).

Shakespeare’s dark play The Tragedy of Macbeth, written about 1606, dramatizes the poisonous effects of extreme ambition. Its protagonist, Macbeth, is tempted by a witches’ prophesy to imagine himself as king, and his bloody pursuit of that goal wreaks havoc not only on his enemies but on himself and his equally ambitious wife, Lady Macbeth. In this production the play was recreated as a dance performance in which the vocabulary of movement captured the essence of significant passages in Shakespeare’s text.

Muggli also served as dramaturg and co-director for the Theater/Dance department’s fall production of Much Ado About Nothing, a shortened version of Shakespeare’s play, performed outside Sampson-Hoffland Science Building’s Atrium on some very cold fall nights in October 4-11, 2012. The ushers handed out blankets as they took tickets, and the delighted audience members bundled up and were warmed by the enjoyable production.

The Much Ado performance was primarily directed by Robert Larson, Professor of Theater/Dance, along with co-directors Muggli and local actress and ArtHaus co-director Kristen Underwood. Lighting and stage design were by Jeff Dintaman and Tom Berger.

The final fall Shakespeare event was the Shakespeare Performed class’s production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on December 2-4 in the Center for the Arts Studio II. Each time the course is taught, all enrolled students—some with little to no acting experience—first study a range of Shakespeare’s plays and then prepare a sixty-minute version of one, cut by Muggli. Twelfth Night is considered among the very greatest of Shakespeare’s plays—a disturbing miracle play about gender, passion, delusion, and love that also includes one of the funniest deception scenes in all of literature.

Muggli also arranged for free copies of the play and pre-performance discussions, open to the public, for each performance, with the following leaders: English Professors Emeriti Mary Hull Mohr and John Bale (Much Ado about Nothing), Theatre Professor Jeff Dintaman and Decorah's ArtHaus co-director and actor Kristen Underwood (A Tragedy like Macbeth), and Religion Assistant Professor Sean Burke and English Professor Emerita Carol Gilbertson (Twelfth Night).

All these activities are part of Muggli’s Jones Professorship and the second year of his creative project, Our Shakespeare, designed to “nurture our community’s rediscovery of the range, power, and wisdom of Shakespeare’s art.” More information, along with photos, is available on the Our Shakespeare page on the English Department website.

Mark Z. Muggli