Love's Labor's Won

By Scott Kaiser

Seattle University Production

Director: Scott Kaiser
Scenic Designer: Carol Wolfe Clay
Costume Designer: Harmony Arnold
Lighting Designer: Kent Cubbage
Sound Designer: Dominic CodyKramers
Music Director: Casey James

Click here for an excerpt [pdf]

Notes from the Writer/Director:

Berowne: Our wooing doth not end like an old play:
Jack hath not Jill.
Love’s Labor’s Lost 5.2.874

Love’s Labor’s Lost is an odd duck among Shakespeare’s comedies, for it concludes not with celebration, but with disappointment; not with forgiveness, but with penance; not with weddings, but with farewells; not with eternal union, but with uncertain separation.

For this reason, it’s easy to understand why audiences wish to know if all ends well for the unsatisfied lovers in Part Two—that is, in the long-lost Shakespearean play known as Love’s Labor’s Won.

Unfortunately, there are only two tenuous shreds of evidence that a sequel to Love’s Labor’s Lost ever existed. First, there’s a tantalizing reference to a play entitled Love Labours Wonne in a 1598 essay by Francis Meres called Wit’s Treasury. And, second, there’s an intriguing mention of a play called Loves Labor Won in the 1603 inventory of a bookseller named Christopher Hunt. Not very much to go on.

To make matters worse, some scholars believe that these two slight references merely point to a play that we already have, the most likely candidates being Much Ado About Nothing or All’s Well That Ends Well. These critics remind us that some of Shakespeare’s plays answer to more than one name—Twelfth Night, for example, is also known as What You Will, and Henry the Eighth, as All is True.

If we choose to ignore these uncertainties, however—and why not?—is there a play in the canon that cries out for a sequel more than Love’s Labor’s Lost? For how could it be that the playwright who followed up Julius Caesar with Antony and Cleopatra, who penned a sprawling four-part history of the Wars of the Roses, who forged an epic tetralogy known as the Henriad, would leave the end of this story untold? Would Shakespeare abandon such a rich vein before it was fully mined? I think not.

Nearly thirty years ago, while playing King Ferdinand in a student production of Love’s Labor’s Lost, I began pondering the fates of these characters, wondering what would happen next. Would the men endure the penance required of them by their lovers? Would the women take them back? What would separation and adversity do to their relationships? Would they survive? Would they thrive? And what if reunion were not possible in a year, what then?

Three decades later, because no one came forward to answer these questions for me, I knew I had to write the sequel myself. Not by satirizing the Bard, as so many writers do these days, but the way Shakespeare might have written it—using his vocabulary, his metrical wizardry, and his mastery of rhetoric.

So I imagined the outbreak of a European war that separates our lovers, not for just a year, but for four years of hardship. I imagined that each of these lovers suffers a loss, that the crucible of war changes them all irrevocably. Then, as the conflict subsides, I imagined, at the signing of an armistice, the couples coming together again for a much-delayed reunion.

In just a few moments, you’ll finally see what happens next, when the lights dim, and Love’s Labor’s Lost, Part Two, begins…

—Scott Kaiser