Shakespeare's Women: Under the Corset


Created & Directed by Jessica Bess Lanius

March 13th-March 29th, 2003
American Theatre of Actors

In Shakespeare’s Women: Under the Corset you’re invited into the undisclosed lives of eight Elizabethan-born women, getting a ‘behind the scenes’ look at Shakespeare’s most famous heroines. Lanius turns classic verse upside down, creating fresh voices that sing out from ‘under the corset’ using song, dance and contemporary dialogue to set these characters free from the dusty leather binding of Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Eight Elizabethean born women are freed from the confines of their original story to give of themselves as never before seen on stage, from ‘Under the Corset’. They converge onto a setting of ultimate possibility, spanning time, language, the afterlife, and borders of reality; one where Rosalind, Helena and Julia share their love sickness, when Kate and Isabella will seek a favored story, how Ophelia and Juliet could meet and affirm the meaning of love and why Lady Macbeth must term her sufficiencies. Their stories are relived, expanded, continued or completely departed from to best encapsulate these brilliantly created characters, and illuminate their ultimate connectedness through all time to the present. Removing corsets in which they were created, these now seemingly quite contemporary women will for the fist time celebrate the expressions the women of today may take for granted.

While not a musical Shakespeare’s Women: Under the Corset is told in a world where music and dance are a unique part of the telling. Borrowing from various performance styles, the full capacity of Shakespeare’s language is recognized. The syllables, consonants, prose and imagery trigger a leap, a curve, a fall, a breath, an expansion or contraction of the body. And, while alive with the original verse, it is also combined with contemporary expressionisms including popular music and slang. All broaden and heighten the experience of these widely read, studied and performed characters, ensuring accessibility to today’s audience. And so, what was once known is now unknown again, and the women of old have come to tell a new story.

“In her vision (Jessica Lanius) of the piece, the stories of Helena, Isabella, Julia, Juliet, Kate, Lady Macbeth, Ophelia and Rosalind are re-lived, expanded, continued or completely departed from- releasing the characters from their Elizabethan born worlds. Lady Macbeth breaking through the glass ceiling—that makes great theatre”
BACKSTAGE March 21-27, 2003

“No Holds Bard: Women Using Shakespeare to Forge New Works”
BACKSTAGE March 21-27 2003 (links)

“Women’s History Month: Is there a Reinvented Woman on Stage?”
BACKSTAGE March 14-20 2003

“What was Juliet Really Thinking?”
The Capital Times March 16th 2003

Cast of Characters
Lady Macbeth - Susan Schuld
Helena - Laura Knight
Kate - Rebecca DuMaine
Rosalind - Nicole Bradin
Ophelia - Bess Richardson
Isabella - Jennifer Rives
Juliet - Jamie Zinger
Julia - Jackie Kamm
Dancers -
Alison Laundrie
Maria Colaco
Sonia Portugal

Artistic Staff & Production Team
Choreographer - Jessica Bess Lanius & Alison Laundrie
Composer - Bryan Fenkart
Lyricist - Andrea Anders
Sound Design - John LaSala
Lighting Design - Jeremy Doucette
Costume Design - Jessica Lanius
Stage Manager - Diane Ballering
Asst. Stage Mgr. - Chad Harlow

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