People's Light & Theatre presents Vern Thiessen's Shakespeare's Will, running May 30 – June 24, 2012 on the Steinbright Stage. Artistic Director AbiGail Adams directs. People's Light & Theatre is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA 19355. For tickets call 610.644.3500 or visit PeoplesLight.org.
On the day of his funeral, Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare's wife, reflects on her life and marriage to the famous poet as she prepares to read his last wishes. Inspired by the actual contents of Shakespeare's will, this play explores the interior life of this remarkable woman and reveals her compelling story.
The play, originally staged as a one woman production, appealed immediately to Ms. Adams because of the precise but expansive quality of the writing, and thematic resonance of the dilemma shared by Anne Hathaway and women of today. To fully cultivate the depth and nuance of the writing, Ms. Adams cast four actors whose lives include being mothers, wives to theatre artists, as well as being artists themselves. Aside from their formidable acting talents, Megan Bellwoar, Melanye Finister, Teri Lamm, and Susan McKey bring a visceral awareness of how difficult it is to fulfill the many roles demanded of women while continuing preserve their sense of self. Their present day challenges are echoed within the character they will inhabit and further illuminate Thiessen's text. Ms. Adams believes this casting decision enhances the artistic process as well as the audience's experience of this powerful story.
"Anne is trying to come to terms with a truth that is very complicated," says Adams, "This is a timeless story about a woman whose sense of responsibility and support within her marital framework allows her husband to achieve success, and illuminates her journey to acceptance of her role in his life."
Costumes, music and set choices connect to the Elizabethan context but allow the audience to bring their modern sensibilities to the qualities of the text. For example, Marla Jurgalanis provides costumes that are evocative of Elizabethan clothing but are simplified for ease of movement. Dan Kluger provides a layered sound bed that includes unconventional improvisations which investigate boundaries, between the voice and nature, masculine and feminine and between struggle and empathy. Performed in the round, the inspiration for the set design is drawn from impressionistic seascapes, the palatte shifting with the ebb and flow of Anne's emotional state throughout her journey of self-discovery and acceptance.