Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Susannah Martin
Presented by Woman’s Will
July 9 – August 14, 2005
OAKLAND TRIBUNE “…director Susannah Martin and a cast of 12 fiery women offer plenty of rewards…a nightmare does indeed inflict Richard toward play’s end, and director Martin stages it beautifully, with all of Richard’s victims covered in black veils and dancing through his foul deeds.” -Chad Jones
A civil war has raged for 30 years between the House of York and the House of Lancaster. The warring factions are of one family and brother fights against brother: the White Rose against the Red. When peace is declared, the House of York claims the throne of England and makes Edward IV their King. But there is blood on everyone’s hands and vindictiveness in everyone’s hearts.
During the War of the Roses, most involved manipulated their way to a position of power. Peace is declared but several nobles hold a grudge and many seek vengeance. Characters smile with one face and spit daggers with another. Like a bunch of children fighting over a toy, they curse, taunt, jeer, and insult each other. Into this enmity leaps Richard, a man spoiling for a good fight.
When most people think of Shakespeare’s Richard III they have an image of the bard’s “bottled spider” or “bunch-backed toad.” Richard is the great, deformed, Machiavellian villain; the devil incarnate. But what if Richard is not simply a “bad apple” but the worst in a barrel of rotten ones? What if Richard is only the biggest bully amongst a pack of fighting kids?
When Richard takes action, he invites us along for the ride. We love Richard because he tells us the truth even while he lies to others. He expertly charms the snakes while letting us in on his plans. He seduces us with his devilish wit and cunning machinations. While the rest of the aristocracy denies culpability, Richard invites us to revel in his successes.
The women, children, and common citizens of the play entreat with us to listen — to notice his monstrous acts — but the other characters hitch their wagons onto Richard’s and we, the audience, are too entertained by his wiliness to stop the show.
By the time Richard has become King and has moved on to slaughtering the innocent (the two princes locked in the Tower) it is too late to halt the runaway train. We change our minds about our alliance with Richard because he kills children, becomes irrational, paranoid, and hasty in his decisions, and, most importantly, he no longer confides in us. But why didn’t we stop him earlier?
Richard III is an example of what happens when we allow terrible deeds to flourish because they seem to serve our ends. When our own quest for power or safety allows a man to become a tyrant. The acts that Richard commits
are transparently corrupt and immoral, yet the other characters sit by and say nothing. And neither do we.
Queen Margaret, Ensemble / Karen Aldridge*
Ensemble / J. Rachel Anderson
Duke of Clarence, Ensemble / Diana Boos
Queen Elizabeth, Ensemble / Jenny Debevec
King Edward, Duchess of York, Ensemble / Carolyn Doyle*
Lady Anne, Ensemble / Elissa Dunn
Duke of York, Ensemble / Quinn Haberman
Richard III / Emily Jordan
Sir William Catesby, Murderer / Jessica Kitchens
Prince Edward, Ensemble / Claire Martin
Duke of Buckingham / Leontyne Mbele-Mbong
Lord Hastings, Ensemble / Erin Merritt
Earl of Richmond, Ensemble / Bernadette Quattrone
*Member of AEA
Artistic Director / Erin Merritt
Assistant Director / J. Rachel Anderson
Assistant Stage Manager / Erin Badillo
Costume Design / Rebecca Redmond
Fight Director / Carla Pantoja
Set Construction / Peleus Uhley
Set Design / Ron Reisner
Sound Design + Music Composition / Eric Roth
Stage Manager / Amanda Melton