Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight. Postcards from Shakespeare by Allison Williams is so much more than your typical Shakespeare spoof. Your budding Bards will have a lot of fun with this one-act comedy!
Shakespeare has writer’s block. Nothing inspires him. The best he can come up with is “Now is the winter of our irritation!”
He pleads to the one person who can help him – Queen Elizabeth the First. Queen Lizzy, who could be a writer herself if she weren’t so busy crushing the Welsh, sends Shakespeare around the world in 30 minutes. Denmark! Venice! Egypt!
Join his whirlwind tour as he desperately searches for material. Star-crossed lovers! Surprise death! Shipwrecks! Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark…
Why did we publish this play?
Shakespeare spoofs are more than frivolous comedies. They give students a much greater understanding of the original text, for both actors and audience, once they’ve done or seen a spoof. That’s important.
Postcards From Shakespeare covers so much ground. It opens a window to Shakespeare to allow students to understand the plays and have some fun with them. It gives us a peak into the genesis of the writing process. And it provides an opportunity to visit plays that schools can never do or would never visit, in a wonderful comedic fashion. There’s all that and more!
1. Why did you write this play?
Because I love the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) and I waited ten years to come up with my own spin on the idea of “all the plays in one go.” I wanted to make a version that was shorter and could have a larger cast, specifically for students.
2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
When you’ve got an audience or a reader you really care about, writing something worthy of them is an act of love.
3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
If the production pulls off the chaos of the last few pages, in which so many individual moments are happening within a swirl of activity, it’s a thing of beauty.
4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
This play is CHALLENGING. There’s a million entrances and exits. Actors are playing five characters apiece if you’re doubling, or the cast has up to 80 people without doubling. Two of the greatest monologues from Shakespeare are delivered at the same time, while the stage is full of other things. There are a ton of props, and each one has to be visually clear to the audience as a joke. And there are so. many. “in-jokes” for people who love Shakespeare. That said, have fun with it—and the best way to have fun with it is to know it backwards and forwards so that the show can be executed with both great precision and passionate emotion.
5. Why is this play great for student performers?
Because if you have a huge cast, everyone gets to do a joke, and if you cast it with the minimum or close to it, it’s a wonderful acting challenge for advanced students to show strong, immediate characterization.
by Julie Hartley
Shakespeare is one of the greatest resources a drama teacher can have. But teaching it can be a challenge. Practical Approaches to Shakespeare in the Drama Classroom helps drama teachers break down the Bard to make his themes, language and characters accessible to all.