That's Miss Shakespeare to You

A new play wants to convince you that the Bard was black, Jewish, and female

As soon as the last performance of A Comic Jewish Satire is over, he must head back to Birmingham to start his thesis, which he is hoping to write on—you guessed it—A Midsummer Night's Dream. If his advisors agree, that is. Somewhat predictably, Hudson has been having some trouble getting his proposal accepted (or even examined) by more mainstream scholars. He is frustrated by the fact that not a single English professor at Columbia has been willing to talk to him. "They'll just tell you it's rubbish," he predicts. "That's what always happens with new industry models."

Alan Stewart, a professor of 16th-century literature at Columbia, is quick to declare that the theory "has no validity whatsoever," but he admits to being tickled by Hudson's choice of Amelia Bassano. "He's picked somebody who is quite interesting in her own right, and who deserves a lot more time, so in a sort of strange sense I'm glad. But this is just incredibly marginal."

Try telling that to the Dark Lady Players. The entire production is surrounded by an aura of evangelism. "It may very well be the next big idea," the play's publicity materials breathlessly affirm. "If it's right, this is going to be very important," says Hudson. "It just makes so much sense," says Jenny Greeman, an assistant director. "I hope it's entertaining as well as groundbreaking."

Attack of the killer (macca)bees: a scene from Midsummer Night's Dream
Jonathan Slaff
Attack of the killer (macca)bees: a scene from Midsummer Night's Dream

Details

Midsummer Night's Dream: A Comic Jewish Satire
March 28 through April 1
Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex
312 West 36th Street
212-868-4444

Landowne is more measured. "I think it's going to be unlike any Midsummer I've ever seen."

But does she believe it? "I believe that one can do what one wants with Shakespeare," she says, deftly deflecting the question. "I don't hold all of John's ideas, but I want to open the door to possibility. I don't know if it's true, but I'm interested in a world that could believe it."

Midsummer Night's Dream; A Comic Jewish Satire runs March 28 through April 1 at Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex, 312 West 36th Street, 212-868-4444

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