Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)
AUSTIN, TX—June 18, 2009—The Weird Sisters Women’s Theater Collective performs Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) beginning July 23 at Austin’s own Cathedral of Junk. The play will run through Saturday, August 1.
Austin’s favorite all-woman troupe’s fifth annual production features veteran actress Chris Humphrey as Constance Ledbelly, a quivering academic with heretical ideas about Shakespeare’s revered Othello and Romeo and Juliet. When she finds herself warped into the worlds of the plays, Constance must gird her trembling loins—with a little help from Desdemona and Juliet.
Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) is a Velveeta-nibbling, Coors-beer-swilling, hilariously irreverent look at Shakespeare’s classics.
If you were not able to attend a performance (or if you want to relive the experience), you can view a Flickr slideshow of our Thursday, July 30, 2009 performance (when we – and our brave audience! – fought the rain and made it through).
Flickr photos compliments of Penny Smith, © 2009 ♥
Now in our fifth year, the Weird Sisters are stronger and more dedicated than ever to all-female theater. Although I am featured as “director” of this production, it is by no means my sole vision. My role would probably better be described as “facilitator of collaboration.” All of the cast and crew deliberate and concoct, and their exploration issues in a “rich Sargasso stew” of images and ideas.
Goodnight, Desdemona (Good Morning, Juliet) is a rollicking and goofy comedy. It is also an important contribution to the rising field of feminist Shakespeare adaptation. In addition to the story’s many themes that resonate with women’s and gender issues (inequity in the academic workplace; relationships; fantasy; homophobia; and anti-feminism, to name a few), GD (GMJ) also illuminates the feminist desire to re-imagine Shakespeare’s texts and to explore other possibilities and outcomes for female characters who are typically marginalized, stereotyped, erased, or silenced by play’s end. Our protagonist, Constance, questions assumptions about Juliet and Desdemona, and as she intervenes and alters Shakespeare’s revered plays, she feels guilty and conflicted: “Have I permanently changed the text? — / You’re floundering in the waters of a flood; / the Mona Lisa and a babe float by. / Which one of these two treasures do you save? / I’ve saved the baby, and let the Mona drown.” As both aficionado and adapter of Shakespeare, I understand the dilemma. However, since the time that the Weirds scrambled Macbeth five years ago to centralize Lady Macbeth and the Witches in The Weird Sisters, Hand in Hand, I am convinced that the original Shakespearean canon is not in danger; the “Mona” has survived many a flood, and will continue to flourish. But the feminist urge to “save the baby”–to challenge representations of women in the canon is, as Constance says, “an irresistible—if wholly repugnant—thought.” –SGT