Shakespeare's Women; He May Have Been the World's Greatest Playwright but Was Shakespeare Successful in His Personal Relationships? as a One-Woman Show Focusing on His Wife Anne Hathaway Gets Its British Premiere in Wales, Karen Price Speaks to the Director

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 19, 2010 | Go to article overview

Shakespeare's Women; He May Have Been the World's Greatest Playwright but Was Shakespeare Successful in His Personal Relationships? as a One-Woman Show Focusing on His Wife Anne Hathaway Gets Its British Premiere in Wales, Karen Price Speaks to the Director


Byline: Karen Price

IT can't be easy staging a one-man show, particularly when an actor has to portray a whole gamut of characters. s But that's exactly what Vivienne Parry will be doing in the British premiere of Shakespeare's Will, which opens at Clwyd Theatr Cymru in Mold tonight.

While the play concentrates on Anne Hathaway, the wife of the great playwright, other characters like his sister Joan and some servants are also featured in the production.

Shakespeare's Will is set on the day of the Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet creator's funeral in 1616.

The burial is over, the mourners have gone and his widow Anne awaits the arrival of her sister-in-law Joan for the reading of the will.

Before she arrives, Anne looks back on her relationship with Shakespeare.

Shakespeare's Will, penned by the Canadian playwright Vern Thiessen, examines the life of the enigmatic Anne, from her courtship through to her daily life with the children - Susanna and twins Hamnet and Judith - as well as her romantic desires and the trials of separation after her husband leaves Stratford-Upon-Avon to seek success in London.

Parry, who has played Donna in Mamma Mia!, approached director Emma Lucia as she was keen to appear in a one-woman show and Lucia is renowned for staging such productions with her company Indigo Entertainments.

"Vivienne had been looking for a one-woman show for herself and I said I'd found one (Shakespeare's Will) which had not been done in this country - she immediately fell in love with it," says the director.

"Anne Hathaway is a shadowy figure in history whom we don't know a lot about.

"We know a lot about William Shakespeare and his plays and sonnets, but who was the woman he married? It's an interesting question and we explore what her life might have been like.

"Much of it is an imaginary journey, as we don't know all the facts.

"We know when she was born, where she lived, that she had three children, where she died and why she died.

"During the early part of my research I read Germaine Greer's book, Shakespeare's Wife, which explores what life might have been like in the late 16th century for women of her class living in Stratford. It helped build a wider picture.

"I think we've developed an appreciation of what it must have been like to have been married to a genius and how difficult, frustrating, exasperating and yet, at the same time, unbelievably exciting and wonderful it must have been. …

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