Show Explores The Women Of Shakespeare’s Plays

NEW BRUNSWICK—State Theatre will present “Tina Packer’s Women of Will: The Overview” on Thursday, March 15, and Friday, March 16, at 8 p.m. These performances will be presented at Crossroads Theatre, 7 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick. Tickets are $22.

“The Overview” is Tina Packer’s comprehensive production that includes themes from the full, five-part opus, and covers the full breadth of Shakespeare’s works providing insight into the chronological growth of Shakespeare’s portrayal of not only of female characters, but of the qualities traditionally considered feminine as well. Featuring Packer and award-winning actor Nigel Gore, “Women of Will” is directed by Eric Tucker and includes scenes from “Taming of the Shrew,” “Henry VI,” “Richard III,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Othello,” “As You Like It,” “Macbeth,” and “Pericles.”

After a successful run this past summer at Shakespeare & Company, Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer takes her masterpiece “Women of Will” for a spin around the state and across the country. “Women of Will” is Packer’s 40-odd years spent investigating all things Shakespeare, presented in a five-part series or condensed into a single evening of enlightening entertainment.

“This project has been a labor of love,” says Tucker. “We’ve been collaborating, formulating, creating and working on this final piece for the past three years and of course Tina much longer than that. We’ve examined, debated, discussed, laughed, cried and argued our way through this process and have come to what we hope is a clear, cohesive piece of work. We’ve also been very diligent about balancing out the narrative with the performance bits, and both Nige and I continue to challenge and question Tina’s ideas (at her request!) to be sure we have a rock solid argument for every scene. Working on ‘Women of Will,’ not unlike working on Shakespeare’s plays themselves, is a never ending process of deepening the arguments, finding parallels to our daily lives, sharpening the scenes and finding new ways to break down the barriers between performer and audience.”

“In studying the female characters in Shakespeare’s plays in the order in which the playwright wrote them, I have been tracing their development and maturation over the span of the Canon,” says Packer. “Through his relationship with the women he creates, Shakespeare reveals much about his own character and spirit as an artist. Because the women generally survive outside the power structure of society, they look at, maneuver and reflect upon the workings of that society, not unlike an artist. The feminine sensibilities of intuition, feeling and relationship parallel those of the artist. So, if you want to know what Shakespeare thinks, listen to the women. Because there are fewer women than men in the plays, the women often have a clear definition of being the ‘other.’ And often they manifest the very souls or spirit of the stories. The women have a specific progression from the fighting warrior women and virgins-on-the-pedestal of the early plays; to the heroines who struggle to find themselves in the middle plays; to the daughters who, through their own wholeness, are able to guide their fathers back to life in the late plays.

I believe the women reflect the development of Shakespeare’s own psyche. Shakespeare, being one of the greatest artists who ever lived, is able to reveal over a 25-year span his mind to us, and this in turn actually exposes on an archetypal level the development of a universal human psyche. I have come to understand myself through this study. I too have been immersed in the plays for 35 years, both as a director and as an actor and have an intimate relationship with most of Shakespeare’s writing. In many ways, my own development as an artist is reflected in the development of his women. First there is the battle, then the negotiation. In order to survive, I personally went underground and now I am coming back from the underground to a new birth—the maiden phoenix if you will. And whole, in a way I never was before.”

For tickets or more information, call the State Theatre ticket office at 1-732-246-7469, or visit The State Theatre ticket office, located at 15 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick, is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday 1 to 5 p.m.; and at least one hour prior to curtain on performance dates. Some additional ticket and transaction fees may apply

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