Shakespeare's Women: Under the Corset

What was Juliet really thinking?
By Doug Moe of the CAPITAL TIMES in Madison, WI
March 20, 2003

This was Jessica Lanius Sunday “I’ve been too busy to really stop and think about it. But now I’m a little nervous. In the last week I’ve begun to wonder “What have I done?”

What Lanius, 29, a Prairie Du Sac native and 1992 graduate of Sauk Prairie High School, has done is write a highly original play that she will also direct, starting March 13, at the American Theatre of Actors in New York City.

The play is titled “Shakespeare’s Women: Under the Corset,” and Lanius’ premise is this: What if eight of William Shakespeare’s female characters stepped from the pages of the great Elizabethan playwright’s works and spoke what was really on their minds?

“Having played these women as an actor,” Lanius said, “I would always wonder what would happen if you found out more about them and their lives.”

Lanius actually created a version of the play at UW-Stevens Point, where she went after graduating Sauk Prairie and where she was an honorable mention Badger Conference Soccer player. Dance was also a passion and while at Point one of Lanius’ dance pieces, “16 Women While you Watched,” a duet about domestic violence, was chosen to be performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington. After Stevens Point she went on to get a Master of Fine Arts degree at Rutgers.

“Shakespeare’s Women” Lanius’ new work, mixes modern dance with the spoken word and there is also singing, though the piece is not technically a musical. Lanius’ best friend, Andrea Anders, wrote the lyrics. I mentioned Anders in a column last month-the DeForest High School grad is finishing up a run playing Mrs. Robinson’s daughter Elaine in the “The Graduate” on Broadway. On Sunday Lanius told me a recent Madison Rep alum, Diane Ballering, is also involved as stage manager with the “Shakespeare’s Women” Production.

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