'Shakespearean Travesty' WHAT YOU WILL Coming to Pear Theatre
Pear Theatre's 15th season concludes with WHAT YOU WILL, a "Shakespearean travesty" by Max Gutmann. Kidnapping, cross-dressing, and adultery combine in this madcap comedy, written by rearranging thousands of snippets cut from the plays of William Shakespeare into a completely new plot.
WHAT YOU WILL, directed by William J. Brown III, previews on June 22. Press and Opening Night is Friday, June 23, followed by a champagne gala. The show runs Thursdays through Sundays, through July 16. All performances are held at the Pear Theatre, 1110 La Avenida St., Mountain View. Tickets ($10-$35) can be purchased by visiting www.thepear.org or calling (650) 254-1148.
"There are very few playwrights that have truly stood the test of time like Shakespeare; his plays have rung true to people for over 400 years," said Brown. "Every single time, there is always something fresh about it. That is exactly what makes Max's play so exciting to me. He has taken these incredible words and actually created something completely new and fresh. The possibilities with this script are truly endless - nothing has been done, nothing has been tried before with this script."
Also known as "the Shakespeare play that Shakespeare never wrote," WHAT YOU WILL plays on classic themes from the Bard's works. When Antonio returns from a successful diplomatic mission with a new French bride, little does he suspect how quickly his happy life is about to fall apart. Can he set things right in time to save his marriage and prevent civil war? Given a developmental reading at the Pear in 2015, WHAT YOU WILL returns as a fully staged production - and in true Shakespeare style, actors play a range of genders, and each cast member performs as part of the ensemble as well as individual characters.
WHAT YOU WILL features Mark Vashro as Antonio, Leigh Ann Cannon as his French bride Katherine, Kevin Hammond as the Duke, Amelia Adams as the Duchess, and Lauren Hayes as the King's right-hand man Malvolio with ulterior motives. Rounding out the cast are Jim Johnson, Alyssa Lupo-Zulueta, and Dan Wilson. The design and crew team includes Rick Amerson, Lighting Designer; Elly Jessop Nattinger, Costume Designer; and Kelly Weber Barraza as Stage Manager.
Director William J. Brown III is the founder and Artistic Director of the Arabian Shakespeare Festival, where he most recently directed the critically acclaimed JIHAD JONES AND THE KALASHNIKOV BABES. He has worked as an actor and theatre educator in six different countries, including appearing before Pear audiences in productions of BETRAYAL, WAY OF THE WORLD, MRS. WARREN'S PROFESSION, NORTHANGER ABBEY, and BACH AT LEIPZIG; and he can next be seen in the title role of HAMLET at ASF this coming November.
Pear Theatre is one of the only theaters in the Bay Area to host its own playwrights development group, known as the Pear Playwrights Guild. Playwrights meet regularly to share their writing, whether short plays or full-length works. Short plays are often considered for the annual Pear Slices production; and Max Gutmann is just one of the Guild members whose full-length play is being given its own production at the Pear (the last being 2013's production of "A King's Legacy" by Elyce Melmon).
Max Gutmann's plays have been performed in New York City; Sligo, Ireland; and throughout the United States. Pear audiences will be familiar with his frequent contributions to Pear Slices, including "The Proposal," "Shirley's Chair," and "Of Trash and Tiffany." The Orlando Sentinel greeted the premiere of his play THE LEGACY with an ebullient headline: "THE LEGACY thrills with every deft twist." Gutmann is the proud father of a seven-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter. Formerly a prolific writer of light verse, Gutmann now and then wins literary competitions in The Spectator and other, mostly British, publications.
Pear Theatre began as the Pear Avenue Theatre in June 2002, under the leadership of Artistic Director Diane Tasca, by a group of theatre artists who believe that audiences are eager for plays that challenge as well as delight and move them. Pear Theatre produces intimate theatre by passionate artists, whether classic works or cutting-edge plays. Now in its fifteenth season, The Pear attracts theatre artists and audience from all over the Bay Area for its award-winning and high-quality productions; and last year The Pear's ongoing commitment to excellence was recognized by the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle with the Paine Knickerbocker Award, an annual special award for a Bay Area company contributing to the high quality of theatre in the region.
Pear Theatre moved in 2015 from its original 40-seat warehouse space to a new, state-of-the-art black box theatre close by, with capacity of 75-99 seats depending on the configuration of the production. This exciting move allows The Pear to continue its tradition of intimate theatre while taking on new challenges and opportunities.