Playing Shakespeare's Lovers examines Shakespeare's romantic characters from multiple perspectives. Contributing actors, directors, educators and scholars bring diverse and wide-ranging insights into the motives, context, history and challenges of performing Shakespeare's "infinite variety" of lovers. The volume begins with an introductory essay, followed by brief essays and interviews, on various characters within the world of Shakespeare's lovers.
As founder and artistic director of CYS, I've gotten to wear many "hats" over the past 5+ years. They include: teacher, director, facilitator, manager, greeter, chauffeur, buyer of bagels, surrogate mom, and many others. Last spring, I was invited to contribute a chapter to Playing Shakespeare's Lover's, the first volume of a new Shakespeare anthology, edited by Louis Fantasia.
I was deeply honored to be included among the other esteemed contributors. I was also terrified. But following the advice I've given to countless students approaching Shakespeare for the first time, I decided to "jump in the deep end" and accept the invitation, adding author to my collection of hats.
My contribution is a chapter entitled Roundtable: Playing at Love in the Age of Tinder, which looks at the process of playing Shakespeare's lovers from the young actor's perspective. At my editor's suggestion, I invited a group of CYS Ensemble students and alums (all of whom had portrayed lovers in one or more of our productions) to share their experiences playing at love (both on stage and off) during their time at CYS. Excerpts from the transcript of our lively, nearly 4--hour panel discussion/reunion/dinner party became the "meat" of the chapter.
Those of you who know me also know that I put a lot of trust in young adults, believing they offer a unique wisdom and perspective on the world that all of us can learn from. Their creativity and talents not only help drive the artistic process at CYS, they also inspire me personally, every single day. This is certainly true of the young artists who made up our Roundtable. They are: Miles Allen, Ryan Borgdorff, Karla Corona, Alyssa Coughlin, Julie Cozette, Jolie Davidson, Freedom Martin, Samuela Noumtchuet, Kieran O'Conner, Evey Reidy, Nina Sachs, Erin Sullivan, Joshua Zambrano, Freya Trefonides, Luke Steadman, Alyss Weissglass, Catherine Wilson, and Sophia Zinger.
For the courageous, personal insights they brought to this chapter, and for the immeasurable contributions they've each made to CYS as a whole, I remain eternally grateful.
I realize it would be remiss not to include a link to buy Playing Shakespeare's Lovers in this post - but there's a catch: The book is pricey - ($89.95 for the hardcover edition) , which is way beyond what many of us are able to spend. The good news is that once 200 hardcover copies have sold, Peter Lang will issue a more affordable, paperback edition! Until then, if your school, library, production company, or theatre might be interested in ordering a copy, (or if you are fortunate to have a very rich aunt who simply loves the Bard), here's the link to purchase on Amazon.
For those friends willing to shell out 90 bucks for the hardcover edition, I will personally come to your house, sign your book, recite your favorite Shakespeare sonnet or monologue, do a tap-dance, do your laundry, you name it!
For the rest of us, stay tuned for the release of the paperback.
Written by Manon Spadaro
Founding Artistic Director (and Wearer of Many Hats)
Chicago Youth Shakespeare
Check out some of our favorite Bard books and articles:
Read Louis Fantasia's Introduction to Playing Shakespeare's Characters: Monarchs and Madmen
Released in 2019