IRELAND’S SHAKESPEARE: A comedy of forgery, folly, and fancy… all in two acts! Nov. 6 & 7
Staged Reading of Pittsburgh Playwright Michael McGovern’s farce about historical forgeries of the Bards works features cast of seven in historical Northside chapel
Poets Corner presents two staged readings of Pittsburgh playwright, Michael McGovern’s, Ireland’s Shakespeare, a farce about Restoration-era forgeries of the Bard’s works. Yvonne Hudson, Poets Corner founder, directs a cast that includes Warren Ashburn, Elizabeth Chappel, Parag Gohel, Devin Malcolm, Mark Rehn, and Jennifer Schaupp, Emily Swora,
Performances are on Sun., Nov. 6 at 1:30 pm and Mon., Nov. 7 at 7:30 pm in the Victorian Chapel, Calvary United Methodist Church, 971 Beech Avenue at Allegheny, Pittsburgh, PA 15233.
A brief tour of the restored sanctuary and Tiffany windows will be given an hour prior to curtain. A talk back with the playwright, cast and director follows each reading.
Admission is $5 and free for seniors and students with ID.
TICKETS ON SALE NOW: www.showclix.com and at the door.
At this Poets Corner “reading for feeding”, donations of non-perishable food items will be collected for Northside Common Ministries’ food pantry.
When a mysterious, but charming, young stranger named William Henry Ireland (Parag Gohel) shows up at Sir Charles Bacon’s (Warren Ashburn) home claiming to have discovered lost papers from Shakespeare, himself, a series of absurdities occur in the city of London. Shakespearean experts are taken through a ridiculous journey of deceit, a beautiful love story goes awry, a housemaid may be more than what she seems to be, and a brilliant, yet deranged, actor gets his first taste of notoriety. Could these lost letters and plays from The Bard actually be real? When a chemist examines them for their authenticity? Scandal!
Devin Malcolm portrays Shatterpate, an over-eager actor who provides the chorus for this Restoration-Shakespearean comedy. Elizabeth Chappel reads the role of Sir Bacon’s daughter, Catherine. Mark Rehn is the skeptical Rourke, who tries of convince Drury Lane producer Lady Budgemore (Jen Schaupp) that Ireland’s literary finds are indeed fake. Appearing as both the street-wise maid Pert and a Drury Lane actress Meg, Emily Swora takes on a comedic dual role.
The reading of Ireland’s Shakespeare is timely, as the theater world’s obsession with Shakespeare’s forgeries has a life of its own. Ireland’s Shakespeare gives audiences a new light hearted take on the alleged works. Employing Restoration style comedy and Shakespearean-style banter, Ireland’s Shakespeare allows audiences to form their own conclusions about the forgeries.
“I use a lot of the actual forgeries in the play and then some things I make up, because they’re so outrageous,” McGovern said about his work. “It’s no way that you could believe this! But it gives the audience some fun.” The playwright wonders if today’s technology-obsessed audience members could be as easily duped as the characters in his play.
Many artists have focused on Shakespearean forgeries as themes for their work. A novel about Shakespearean forgeries called The Tragedy of Arthur was recently released while Shakespeare’s lost work Double Falsehoods and another play Cardenio have been revived. Most notably, on October 28, Anonymous, a new motion picture will be released. The film’s plot is based on rumors (and subsequent scholarship) that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford was, in fact, the author of Shakespeare’s works.
About the Company
Michael McGovern, who has been involved in the Pittsburgh theater scene for decades, graduated from Point Park College with his BFA in theater and went on to obtain his MFA in playwriting from Carnegie Mellon University. He originally wrote Ireland’s Shakespeare as his graduate thesis paper and won the first play Bud Yorkin Award at the CMU New Play Festival. The play has been revisited over the years and McGovern is looking forward to the readings of the work as a chance to reconnect with theater and also as a way to use audience reaction to see if the play has further potential. McGovern is hoping his play, written over 25 years ago, has finally found its time.
Ireland’s Shakespeare director Yvonne Hudson thinks that the recent obsession over Shakespeare’s forgeries is a testament to his significance in literature and the English language as a whole.
“Shakespeare’s works are significant regardless of who you think wrote them,” says Hudson. Applying her long experience with Shakespeare’s works, she wrote and performs her own long-running play Mrs. Shakespeare, a one woman show sharing Anne Shakespeare’s story trials and triumphs with and without her playwright husband.
POETS CORNER celebrates the lives & works of poets & writers with classics, new works & music in intimate & historic venues since 2006. Founded at Pittsburgh’s historic Calvary United Methodist Church, Poets Corner is also found at Pitt’s Nationality and other unique settings. The program aims to instill appreciation and participation in spoken word programs, drawing on poetry, theatre, and prose to engage and educate audiences while providing a creative outlet for writers and artists. Past programs have included T.S. Eliot’s MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL in the Calvary Tiffany sanctuary and readings of work by Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, A.R. Gurney, Emily Dickinson, and William Shakespeare.
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