- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 08 February 2017
- Written by ANNA BLAINE | STAFF WRITER
Shakespeare’s farcical comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor will be coming to Two River Theater in Red Bank, and what better way to introduce this production than with free play readings? On Feb. 13 at 7 p.m., the cast of The Merry Wives of Windsor will be doing an open rehearsal for the upcoming play. Along with that, there will be a play reading group led by Two River Theater’s artistic director, John Dias, on the nights of Feb. 27 and March 6 at 7 p.m. If you attend, you will receive a sneak peek of what is happening behind the scenes of this delightful comedy; scheduled performances this season begin Feb. 25. These free events that will usher in The Merry Wives of Windsor production would be beneficial to high school or college students, adults and children alike, and here is why:
Shakespeare is credited with many things like perfecting the English sonnet and writing about passionate love. However, I give him more credit for the way in which his work translates and often conceptualizes the modern day 21st century woman. Shakespeare was advocating for women long before the feminist movement and while I know that everyone is not a fan of feminism, I’d like to believe that we do live in a progressive world. There are valuable life lessons that can be learned by reading or watching a Shakespeare play. For instance, lessons about the way we as people regard the opinions of women versus men in society. The Merry Wives of Windsor is about the way women feel in a patriarchal society and Shakespeare allowed his female characters to voice the way they feel. At the end of the play, the opinions that Mistress Ford, Mistress Page and Anne Page had truly mattered and they brought back a semblance of reality to the absurdness of everything in Windsor.
The Merry Wives of Windsor has had numerous stage productions since it was first written between 1597 and 1601. Rumor has it that Queen Elizabeth requested William Shakespeare to write a comedic spin-off to Henry IV featuring one of the characters named John Falstaff. Little did she know, Shakespeare would write one of the most beloved comedies that appeal to audiences to this day. Written in prose, the common thread of hilarity throughout the play is that many of the male characters are completely unware that they are the brunt of a joke. Characters such as Falstaff, who seek to woo Mistress Ford and Mistress Page for money; Mister Ford also does not trust his wife and believes she is committing adultery. Many of the men are so consumed by their own foolish agendas whereas the women of Windsor turn out to be the real intellectuals and players of the game. With its preposterous situations and non-conformity during a time where women held very little power, especially in marriage, The Merry Wives of Windsor is a testament to Shakespeare’s artistry.
As a student at Monmouth University, I think this will be a great opportunity for college students seeking to gain extra credit in a Shakespeare or British Literature class. Maybe this can offer students an alternative to understanding Shakespeare as well because it can be a more rewarding experience than having to read from a textbook or listen to a lecture. In addition to these free readings, children will be performing their own version of this play in “A Little Shakespeare.”
On behalf of Two River Theater, everyone is welcomed to attend the free play reading events. There will be coffee and dessert served in the lobby afterwards. However, reservations are strongly suggested. TO RSVP to either or both of these events, please visit tworivertheater.org or call 732.345.1400. Two River Theater is easily accessible by car, train, or bus, with great restaurants, shopping and hotels within walking distance of the theater. NJ Transit Red Bank station is 1 ½ blocks from the theater.
image courtesy of Two River Theater Staff