The Globe Theatre, London
It was an ordinary meeting of the production committee when Ed, chairman, looked at me and said, "I think Rosendale should have a Shakespeare festival of sorts this summer. Mary Lois, will you take this on?"
I was surprised. I thought about it a full three seconds.
Ed agreed to be on the planning committee of the event, and Howie, who had taught theatre at a high school in Queens, volunteered too. Howie came up with a script for a sketch based on "the original manuscript for William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, as told by old Jews telling jokes." I thought we should have a short scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream and another from Henry IV, Part 1, featuring Falstaff. Ed believes in non-traditional casting, and urged me to play Falstaff. Talking it over we thought of a great married couple for The Taming of the Shrew. They want to do it, and would like their 8-year-old daughter to be considered for Puck.
Ed got the news release out about the auditions, which will be Saturday. I am the contact person and the production manager. I will not be playing Falstaff. But I shall direct all the scenes except Julius Caesar--Howie is on his own--and will organize the backstage detail as well as coordinate what happens onstage. As it turns out we have at least three candidates for Puck--two little girls, and an 82-year-old lady who played the role when she was in high school.
We're calling it a Shakespeare Slam. It will not be a competition--but the three Pucks will all get their chance to show their stuff, and anybody who wants to read a sonnet or perform a soliloquy, within reason, will get a spot on the program.
It feels good to be back in show biz, to have actors calling me telling me how excited they are to do this. It feels good to communicate with Shakespeare again--he loves it when I do this--and to have the stimulation of great theatre, good companions, and wonderful words to put in people's mouths. I feel inspired. I hope we're as good as we think we're going to be.