We know very little about the life William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway shared in 16th century England, but according to Kristin Wold we know enough to create a rather interesting fictional tale.
“There are only a few facts that we know, and historians don’t agree on those,” said Wold, who plays Hathaway in the one-woman show, “Shakespeare’s Will,” kicking off the 2014 Shakespeare & Company season with a preview performance Saturday night at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre in Lenox, Mass.
“Shakespeare’s Will” was written by Canadian playwright Vern Thiessen for the River City Shakespeare Festival in Edmonton, and was first produced there in February of 2005 at the Citadel Theatre. The Shakespeare & Company production is being directed by Daniela Varon.
“The playwright is pretty clear in his notes about the play. He uses what we know as a jumping off place. He’s not writing a biography by any means. It’s a work of theatrical fiction,” Wold said.
“It begins with Anne returning home after Shakespeare’s funeral with a copy of his will, and I think they did have a complex relationship that was both loving and difficult,” said Wold. “I think this is her side of the story, and the story that’s being told in this play is that she liked men. And Shakespeare was never there.”
WHERE: Bernstein Theatre, Shakespeare & Company, 70 Kemble St., Lenox, Mass.
WHEN: Begins with previews 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and next Friday, opens May 31 and runs through Aug. 24, performance times vary
HOW MUCH: $64.50-$14..50
MORE INFO: 413-637-3353, www.shakespeare.org
The historical record indicates that Shakespeare was 18 and Wold 26 when they got married. She gave birth to their first child six months after the wedding, and the couple had two more children. What we also know is that there was plenty of separation in their marriage.
“He leaves her and the three children and goes back to London a lot,” said Wold.
“We know that. How are people going to look at this? Well, I think it could go a lot of ways. I think it’s pretty tough on him at the end of the play, but our story has them agreeing on an open marriage. They made a promise that was how they were going to lead their lives, and I don’t know if that’s an Elizabethan idea. It sounds pretty modern, but I imagine it’s been around all through history.”
While discerning a clear and historically accurate picture of Hathaway is impossible, Wold has grown fond of the character Thiessen has created for his play.
“Yes, I do really like her,” she said. “She’s pretty feisty, and she’s certainly straightforward. You can tell what she’s feeling and what she’s thinking, and she’s pretty up front with all of that. She’s also vulnerable but pretty tough, and I like that combination.”
Wold spent much of her youth in Florida, although as an “army brat” she saw plenty of the country.
After graduating from Florida State University in 1986, she began her long association with Shakespeare & Company in 1987. She has acted, directed and worked as a teacher in the troupe’s actor’s training program, and is also a part-time theater professor at the University of Connecticut.
“I was on the verge of taking a full-time position at Connecticut, but it fell through and when it did I was relieved that I didn’t have to leave the Berkshires,” said Wold, who lives in Lenox. “I didn’t realize how upset I was going to get if I had to leave this place.”
Along with the three performance venues at its 70 Kemble St. location in Lenox, Shakespeare & Company will do a series of performances of “Romeo and Juliet” at Edith Wharton’s home, “The Mount,” also in Lenox.
-- May 24-Aug. 24 — “Shakespeare’s Will,” written by Vern Theissen, starring Kristin Wold and directed by Daniela Varon, at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre.
-- June 21-Aug. 30 — “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by Tony Simotes, at the Tina Packer Playhouse.
-- June 25-Aug 23 — “The Servant of Two Masters,” written by Carlo Goldoni, directed and adapted for the stage by Jenna Ware, at the Rose Footprint Theatre.
-- June 27-Aug. 30 — “Julius Caesar,” starring Nigel Gore and directed by Tina Packer, at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre.
-- July 4-Aug. 24 — “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” directed by Jonathan Croy, at the Tina Packer Playhouse.
-- July 17-Aug. 23 — “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by Jonathan Croy, at the Dell at The Mount (Edith Wharton’s Home).
-- Aug. 2-31 — “Henry IV Parts I and II,” adapted and directed by Jonathan Epstein, at the Tina Packer Playhouse.
-- Aug. 6-Sept. 14 — “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” written by Christopher Durang, starring Elizabeth Aspenlieder and directed by Matthew Penn, at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre.