2 Wills and a Jim

Will Shakespeare, the WILL of the indomitable family of the Irondale company– and Jim Shapiro. Without the indispensible contributions of each of these people, what you are about to see before you would not exist. The first Will we all know about. In this year commemorating the 400th anniversary of his death, he is indeed a ubiquitous presence. Within several blocks of this theatre alone, there have been nine professional productions of his plays in just the last month. I hope that you will be as impressed as we are with Shakespeare’s incredible accomplishment of turning out these four plays in a single year and that you will appreciate the scope and diversity of style, theme, genre and language that is on display tonight.

 

Then there is the will of the actors you see onstage who have labored mightily with great heart, talent, creativity and intelligence and overcoming tremendous obstacles on an almost daily basis to bring this work to life. There is also the will of the people you don’t see–the designers, administrators, technicians-every single person who works in this building who signed on to the importance of this project, who give of themselves so much and only get paid a tenth of what they deserve.

 

Finally there is Jim, or as he is formally known James S. Shapiro, Columbia professor, author, Shakespeare scholar, and advisor to virtually every major New York classical theatre. I have only met Jim once, and that was for about thirty seconds, but, as anyone who has seen my falling apart and the seams and held together by duct tape copy of his extraordinary A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare 1599, we have spent many hours together and we at Irondale are the beneficiaries of his insights and his passion. When this book came out eleven years ago, it awakened in us a curiosity and then a passion that eventually led to the six years of work we have put into the development of this piece that we are so proud to present to you this evening.

Will Shakespeare, the WILL of the indomitable family of the Irondale company– and Jim Shapiro. Without the indispensible contributions of each of these people, what you are about to see before you would not exist. The first Will we all know about. In this year commemorating the 400th anniversary of his death, he is indeed a ubiquitous presence. Within several blocks of this theatre alone, there have been nine professional productions of his plays in just the last month. I hope that you will be as impressed as we are with Shakespeare’s incredible accomplishment of turning out these four plays in a single year and that you will appreciate the scope and diversity of style, theme, genre and language that is on display tonight.

 

Then there is the will of the actors you see onstage who have labored mightily with great heart, talent, creativity and intelligence and overcoming tremendous obstacles on an almost daily basis to bring this work to life. There is also the will of the people you don’t see–the designers, administrators, technicians-every single person who works in this building who signed on to the importance of this project, who give of themselves so much and only get paid a tenth of what they deserve.

 

Finally there is Jim, or as he is formally known James S. Shapiro, Columbia professor, author, Shakespeare scholar, and advisor to virtually every major New York classical theatre. I have only met Jim once, and that was for about thirty seconds, but, as anyone who has seen my falling apart and the seams and held together by duct tape copy of his extraordinary A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare 1599, we have spent many hours together and we at Irondale are the beneficiaries of his insights and his passion. When this book came out eleven years ago, it awakened in us a curiosity and then a passion that eventually led to the six years of work we have put into the development of this piece that we are so proud to present to you this evening.