Had Shakespeare met Lisa Wolpe or encountered her powerful theater company he would have dropped that line, or switched the gender perhaps; which is exactly what Wolpe and The Los Angles Woman’s Shakespeare Company does with its All-female, multi-cultural production of Hamlet at the Odyssey Theater Ensemble in Los Angles, California. It’s the company’s 20th anniversary and they’re celebrating by taking on the Bard’s longest and in ways most difficult role. Wolpe has set radically new standards of performance and interpretation as the production evokes a politically dynamic, sexually provocative and spiritually awakened frame of reference. Must see!
“I’ve long admired Lisa’s unique experiment of tackling Shakespeare utilizing an all female company of actors,” says OTE artistic director Ron Sossi. “It’s the sort of gutsy artistic excursion we thrive on here at the Odyssey.”
Wolpe herself says her primary drive for founding and sustaining the company “ . . . has been quite simply, the empowerment of women. I want the world to experience the intelligence, artistry and power of female voices, and watch these wonderful artists reveal themselves through the prism of the greatest poetry in the English language.” Which, I might add, they do!
About the (Alleged) Playwright
In a slight turn of this production toward the authorship question, the program notes contain the usual comments “About the (Alleged) Playwright”. Yes: (Alleged). It goes on to summarize the authorship controversy and state that “Alas, with few surviving documents to work from, no writers’ guild to arbitrate the matter, and no Facebook pages to tell us who liked whom in Elizabethan times, the question of Hamlet’s authorship likely will remain unresolved for at least the run of this production.” It is a sign of the times, when the likes of Vanessa Redgrave, Sir Derek Jacobi and esteemed theaters like the Odyssey acknowledge the value of this inquiry. When we met with her after her stellar performance Lisa would not say for the record who she thought may have penned the Canon, but we did talk quite a bit about Mary Sidney’s accomplishments as a woman competing in what was most assuredly a man’s world.
Performances of Hamlet take place on Fridays and Saturdays @ 8 p.m. and Sundays @ 2p.m.*, Aug. 30 through Oct. 27. (*On Sunday, Sept. 1 only, the performance will be @ 5 p.m. with no 2 p.m. matinee.) Additional weeknight performances are scheduled on Wednesdays @ 8 p.m. on Sept. 18, Oct. 2 and Oct. 16; and on Thursdays @ 8 p.m. on Sept. 12, Sept. 26, Oct. 10 and Oct. 24. Tickets are $30, except for the performance on Saturday, August 31 which is $45 and includes a gala reception following the performance. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to http://www.OdysseyTheatre.com.