Speakeysie News Desk
Atlanta-November 9, 2022
By My Will
By Douglas Post
Directed by Artistic Director Jeff Watkins
$15 General Admission Preview Thursday April 6, 2023
$20 General Admission Preview Friday April 7, 2023
Performances April 8-30, 2023
No show on Easter Sunday April 9, 2023
For hundreds of years, literary scholars and historians have debated the true authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. In this new Comedy, commissioned by ASC’s Artistic Director Jeff Watkins, an assortment of 16th century playwrights, poets and regal figures meet up in a unique location to determine who among them may have written the works attributed to the man from Stratford. It’s a veritable comic vivisection of the authorship question with twists, turns, and bawdy humor.
From Artistic Director Jeff Watkins’ point of view, doubts have abounded about the authorship question since the mid-19th century. “Many of our audience members have been curious and brave enough to explore those doubts with me over the years so I wanted to create a fun evening at the theatre delving into it with them.” On a personal note, this has been a chance to reconnect with an old college friend and artistic comrade with whom he hasn’t worked with for 40 years. “It’s an honor and a privilege for an Artistic Director to be able to commission a new work for their theatre. And while in the history of our company it has not been unheard of to commission plays, it has been a long time. I hope we’re the launching pad for this play to go on to greater and greater successes.”
About the playwright
Douglas Post’s plays, which include Bloodshot, Cynical Weathers, Drowning Sorrows, Earth and Sky and Murder in Green Meadows, and musicals, which include God and Country, The Real Life Story of Johnny de Facto and The Wind in the Willows, have been produced in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Canada, England, Wales, Germany, Austria, Russia, China, and South Africa. He has also been commissioned to write screenplays for Warner Bros. and NBC, teleplays for WMAQ-TV and several radio adaptations of his scripts. On three occasions, he has been selected to develop his work at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and once at the O’Neill National Music Theater Conference. He has received the L. Arnold Weissberger Playwriting Award, the Midwestern Playwrights Festival Award, the Cunningham Commission Award, the Blue Ink Playwriting Award and three Playwriting Fellowship Awards from the Illinois Arts Council, and he has been nominated for three Joseph Jefferson Awards and an Emmy Award. Post lives in Chicago where he is a founding member of the Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble, teaches playwriting at the University of Chicago Graham School and has composed songs and incidental music for more than 25 productions.
Q&A with playwright Douglas Post
Douglas, did you learn anything interesting or surprising while writing the play? How has writing this been different from writing other plays?
There is an adage in my line of work that states, “You never learn how to write a play. You only learn how to write this play.” I take great heart in this precept as it means the playwright has to come at every endeavor with a fresh set of eyes and figure it out along the way. And so the challenges are always new. In the case of By My Will, I read dozens of texts, plays and collections of poetry, and did a lot of serious thinking and taking of notes. At some point the characters I imagined would be a part of this story began to speak to me and my responsibility was to transcribe their words as fast as possible. I knew that the piece wanted to be a comedy. And I knew it had to have a series of twists and turns that would hopefully delight our audience and keep them guessing. And, yes, everything I learned was interesting and surprising, so the trick was figuring out how much of this information could be supported within the structure of the script. Perhaps of greatest interest was the fact that being a playwright in Elizabethan England had very little value in and of itself.
Writers for the theatre were looked down upon as were the people who went to see their plays. Poets were held in high esteem, but playwrights were not. And yet it was a golden age with a clear progression from the work of John Lyly to Thomas Kyd to Christopher Marlowe to the scripts we attribute to Shakespeare. None of this could have happened without Elizabeth’s blessing.
How do you and Jeff know each other?
Jeff and I were undergraduate students in the Speech and Drama Department at Trinity University, San Antonio, TX, where we acted together in a number of productions including Child’s Play, Stage Door and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It was while working on
Cuckoo’s Nest, and playing two of the more seriously disturbed patients in a mental institution, that we became great friends. For our annual festival of one-act plays, Jeff elected to direct a musical I wrote and composed titled Something in the Wind. Subsequently, we were cast in a production of Romeo and Juliet, with Jeff playing Mercutio and me playing Romeo.
Upon graduation, we decided that we wanted to keep working together in San Antonio and so I wrote a rock musical adaptation of The Tempest that was produced at the Carver Community Cultural Center. Jeff played Prospero and I directed. I then wrote a sci-fi play titled Avatros that was staged at Le Bistro in El Mercado and this time I performed the lead role while Jeff directed.
We both moved to Chicago in the early 1980s and got our rock version of The Tempest produced at the Leo A. Lerner Theater. We were in residence at this theater for a full season and produced two other shows – The Other Wise Man, another one-act musical of mine based on the novella by Henry Van Dyke, and an improvisational comedy called Eunice the 8th. Jeff and I were also cast in a production of Julius Caesar at Chicago City Theatre in which he played Artemidorus and I played Antony.
According to my math, By My Will will be the twelfth show we’ve worked on together and it seems fitting to me that it all started with Cuckoo’s Nest as one has to have a slightly skewed take on reality to go into this business.
What can audiences expect from this production?
This may be a question that is better put to Jeff, but my hope is that they will be caught up in the predicaments of our people and in the arguments they lay out. We’re exploring the authorship question from a number of different points of view and we’re doing it in a way that is intended to be highly entertaining. And all of this is taking place in a strange setting that is keenly off kilter so anything can happen and it frequently does.
Why should people see this play?
It will introduce you to a colorful assortment of regal and literary characters from the Elizabethan era and inspire you to think through some issues related to the writing of Shakespeare’s plays that you may not have previously considered. It will provoke conversation.
And it will provide some serious laughs.
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Performance days & times:
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM, and Sundays at 2:30pm.
Seating areas: Main Floor Seats, Box Seats (on floor) and Balcony Seats
Regular Adult Ticket Prices range from $24-$45 depending on the day of the show, ticket availability and the seating area.
Discount Ticket Options:
$15 for Thursday Previews (See online calendar for specific dates)
$20 for Friday Previews (See online calendar for specific dates)
Student ticket prices: $15 General Admission Tickets on Thursdays / $20 Balcony tickets on Fridays & Sundays. $5 off Floor & Box tickets on Fridays & Sundays (No student discounts on Saturdays)
Educator prices: $5 off per adult price level per night (Not valid on Saturday nights.)
Military Discount: $3 off adult ticket price
Senior Discount: $3 off adult ticket price
Group Discount (Parties of 10 or more): $3 off adult ticket price
Purchase Tickets Online for most performances at www.shakespearetavern.com
For information on:
Education Programs and Workshops: Laura Cole, Director of Education and Training email@example.com
Volunteer Opportunities: Rich Snow, Volunteer Coordinator at Rich@shakespearetavern.com
Accessibility and The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse: The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse is handicapped accessible. Please let the box office know if you have any special needs that we should be aware of in order to make your Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse experience the very best we can. Our handicapped entrance ramp/parking is located directly behind our building. Once you turn onto Renaissance Parkway from Peachtree Street, you will turn right onto Courtland Street. The Tavern’s back entrance will be immediately on your right once you clear the building on the corner and the traffic poles. The turn comes up quickly, so please drive slowly. Handicapped parking is directly in front of the ramp, behind our building, and anywhere spaces are available.
Location: The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse is located at 499 Peachtree Street NE, just four blocks south of The Fox Theater and directly across the street from Emory University Hospital Midtown.
Land Rights: We acknowledge that the location of The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse is on the traditional tribal lands of the Muscogee Creek, colonially referred to as Atlanta.
Parking: We recommend parking in the Emory University Hospital Midtown Parking Deck located directly across the street from the front doors of The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse on Peachtree Street. Regular parking price is $5.
Food and Beverage Service: The Tavern opens one hour and fifteen minutes before the performance for food and beverage service. Chef for a Night Catering provides a British-pub-style menu for dinner. The Tavern has beer, wine, coffee, tea, soft drinks, bottle beer and draft beers on tap.
Seating and Box Office: Seating is done on a “first come, first served” basis within each designated section (Main Floor, Box Seats, Balcony). Table seating is limited however all seats can accommodate food and beverages. For tickets or more information, call or email The Tavern Box Office at 404.874.5299 x 0 or firstname.lastname@example.org or buy tickets online at www.shakespearetavern.com
The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse is a registered 501 ( C ) 3 non-profit organization.