Actors' Shakespeare Project (ASP) continues its 8th season - Laughter, Loss & Longing with one of Shakespeare's later comedies, The Merry Wives of Windsor, directed by ASP resident acting company member Steven Barkhimer.
The play previews on December 7th, 8th & 9th, and opens on Saturday, December 10th at 8:00pm at the newly opeNed Davis Square Theatre (formerly Jimmy Tingle's), 255 Elm Street, right in the heart of Davis Square in Somerville. For this production we hope to be long on the "laughter" part of our theme and, the holidays and Davis Square are a perfect match for the escapades of the Merry Wives. "It's the time of year when we should be laughing off the crap we have to go through the rest of the year," Artistic Director Allyn Burrows said. "And what better place to perform but in the space once operated by the hilarious comedian Jimmy Tingle."
Probably written in 1597-8, and first published in 1602, The Merry Wives of Windsor is one of
Shakespeare's only plays to deal with middle?class life. It's also one of his most farcical works,
using physical gags and linguistic jokes to establish a comic tone that influences the play's ultimate spirit of reconciliation, after all the intrigues have been sorted out. Sir John Falstaff, staying in Windsor and down on his luck, decides to restore his fortunes by seducing the wives of two wealthy citizens. He sends Mistress Page and Mistress Ford identical love letters, but they discover his double dealing and set about turning the tables, arranging a rendezvous at Mistress Ford's house. The jealous Frank Ford has heard of Falstaff's plan and decides to test his wife's fidelity. Pretending to be Master Brook, he pays Falstaff to seduce his wife, twice almost catching them together. Meanwhile, the Pages' daughter Ann is pursued by three suitors. The French physician Doctor Caius is her mother's choice, whilst her father favors Slender, Justice Shallow's kinsman. Anne herself is in love with Fenton. Mistress Quickly is being paid by all three suitors to advance their cause. A duel between Doctor Caius and Parson Evans is averted when the Host of the Garter Inn plays a trick on them, and they in turn pay him back. In Windsor Great Park at night, Falstaff is set up for his final punishment and one of Anne Page's suitors is successful.
In ASP's production, director Steven Barkhimer will tap into the jovial and comic undertones of
the story while honoring the original text. "It's widely thought that Shakespeare custommade
Merry Wives for a festive occasion, and in that case he would certainly have exploited the
comic abilities of his troupe to the fullest," Barkhimer said. "My hope is that the same spirit of
inventive exuberance will animate this production, and that it will be offered, as Shakespeare's
most likely was, as a sort of seasonal gift to people who have gathered to celebrate." We hope
audiences join us in Davis Square this holiday season for highly comedic romp and celebration as
only ASP can do.
As with all Actors' Shakespeare Project's productions, post?show discussions will be held
following the conclusion of Sunday performances, including a special talkback on X date with
author Elizabeth Searle, a member of PEN New England, with whom ASP is collaborating this
Education and outreach work running in conjunction with The Merry Wives of Windsor brings a
broad range of people together to explore Shakespeare's plays in a myriad of ways. The Actors'
Shakespeare Project's "project" is truly off and running all around the city.
ASP company members Jason Bowen, Michael Forden Walker and Brooke Hardman are currently
working in the classrooms of three Charlestown High School teachers. The project will culminate
in scene sharing in the CHS auditorium the week of November 15th. These three CHS teachers also took part in ASP's summer Teacher Institute at Salem State in August.
ASP is about to begin a nearly four?month residency at Boston Arts Academy, working on a
production of Twelfth Night. Founding company member Marya Lowry will also be at BAA, leading
15 teachers from around the country in a workshop as part of the Coalition of Essential Schools
Conference. As always, ASP continues to work in Massachusetts Department of Youth Services
facilities and at the Germaine Lawrence School doing Shakespeare with youth.