During August, the Festival features the New American Playwrights Project (NAPP). Playwrights submit their plays and only three are selected for a staged reading, with Festival company members directing and acting. Each play has three readings.

This week, we feature Hamlet’s Shakespeare by Mary Jane Schaefer. The play focuses on Will’s reaction to the death of Hamnet Shakespeare, his only son.

We talked with Ms. Schaefer to learn more about her and her inspiration for the play.

Mary Jane Schaefer

Mary Jane Schaefer

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I first read Romeo and Juliet when I was twelve years old and I fell madly in love with the play and the playwright. In college I performed a lot of Shakespeare. I’ve since acted professionally, taught, been a dramaturg and written many plays, including a monologue “The Great Will Shakespeare Speaks” that’s been performed in Canada and on the grounds of the Shakespeare Festival Theater in Stratford, Connecticut. 

 

What was your inspiration for this play?

The kernel of the play came from a 24-hour playwriting festival, where a topic, actors, and director were assigned. The goal was to write a ten-minute play that would be performed 24 hours later. My assigned topic was “Shakespeare in the Dark”.  From that nugget, I wrote this full- length play: Hamlet’s Shakespeare.

Rick Peeples- Actor in Hamlet's Shakespeare 

Rick Peeples- Actor in Hamlet's Shakespeare 

Ericka Haaland- Actor in Hamlet's Shakespeare 

Ericka Haaland- Actor in Hamlet's Shakespeare 

What do you expect as a result of this experience?

I’ve seen some of director, Henry Woronicz’s, work and I feel I’m in very good hands. I’m eager to see what his emphasis will be and what he’d like changed. I’d like to hear how the script sounds, how the actors respond – what they’re comfortable and uncomfortable with.  And, of course, I’d very much like to hear from the audience, especially what they would name the play because I don’t think this title is the final one.

Being here is a tremendous experience for me, as well as a wonderful honor. I want to participate as fully as possible, get to know people, and enjoy this great Festival.

 

Why should our patrons attend this play reading?

I think my play presents a new and dramatic impression of what Shakespeare might have been like as a man. I used a form of Elizabethan English to create an illusion of being there, in his world, in his mind, so we feel what he might have been going through while he wrote Hamlet, after his son’s death.  

 

Hamlet’s Shakespeare will be directed by Henry Woronicz. Actors include Bailey Duncan, Ericka Haaland, Sara Griffin and Rick Peeples. Performances are August 22, 23 and 29, 10am in the Auditorium Theatre. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.bard.org or by calling 800-PLAYTIX