WEST CHESTERFIELD, N.H. >> What if England's dirtiest politician tried to hire William Shakespeare as his spin doctor?
With a variety of festivals and staged productions 2016 is being heralded around the world as the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. The Actors Theatre Playhouse in West Chesterfield, N.H., will celebrate the Bard with Staged Reading performances of Bill Cain's contemporary 'what-if' drama "Equivocation" for two performances only on Saturdays, July 9 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. All tickets are $8, and reservations can be made Toll-free at 877-666-1855. Visit the Playhouse site at ATPlayhouse.org for information about productions, directions, reviews, blogs, etc.
16O9 proved to be a momentous year near the end of William Shakespeare's career as he finished King Lear and began work on Macbeth, two of his most renowned theatrical ventures. Bill Cain's sets his acclaimed drama "Equivocation" in that dangerous moment for both Country and Author when the new King and the celebrated Playwright were both striking out in new directions. One to united a divided empire. The other to create a 'new' kind of theatrical experience.
Out with Old? In with the New? Off with Your Head???
At its heart, Bill Cain's Equivocation is a clever work of historical fiction. William Shakespeare (known here as Shagspeare or just Shag to his friends) is commissioned by an old enemy, the king's man Sir Robert Cecil, to write a play about the recently foiled assassination attempt known as the 1605 Gunpowder Plot. While attempting to stage a disjoined new work called King Lear, Shag and his troop of actors who are also his business partners and dearest friends have trouble turning the straightforward Gunpowder Plot into an workable play. So they set out to clarify some confusing details of the attempted treason. Their hunt for an interesting plot line quickly becomes a life-threatening search for the truth. And other than Will Shakespeare, who needs that! The troop must find a way to tell the story King James the First is paying to hear without jeopardizing their own safety, even as the actual accused conspirators are tortured, tried and executed in the town square. In their frantic search they may end their own livelihoods – and even their own lives.
Just how much does an artist have to pay for his 'art'? Just how far does Shakespeare have to 'compromise', or 'equivocate', to keep favor with the new court? Politics vs Art. Or is all Art really Politics? And how does his newest brain-twisting conception called Macbeth find it's birth in the midst of all this political and emotional chaos? As Shakespeare delves further into Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot, he uncovers a true sense of his life's work and the value of the family he thought he left behind.
Bob Gruen as Shagspeare is joined by Nell Curley as his daughter Judith, Roy Mahoney, Colin Grube, Kirk Winchester are his actors, and Peter Eisenstadter is Sir Robert Cecil. The reading is directed by Sam Pilo.
Staged Readings are a unique way of experiencing a theatrical work. Actors sit at tables with scripts on reading stands and 'act' their parts to each other and the audience. They particularly love the experience for the risk and discovery that comes with each rehearsal and performance. Audiences love them as well as they find themselves as deeply engaged as if it were a full production. If you have not been to one, you owe it to yourself to give the experience a try.
The Actors Theatre Playhouse is located on the corner of Brook and Main streets, West Chesterfield, NH.
For additional Information on this and other Playhouse productions, directions, reviews, blogs, etc. visit ATPlayhouse.org.