THE BOOK OF WILL Opens At MST, Today

THE BOOK OF WILL Opens At MST, TodayMain Street Theater (MST) will open its 43rd Season with the Regional Premiere of Lauren Gunderson's The Book of Will. This compelling play tells the tale of how Shakespeare's First Folio came into existence thanks to the loyalty and love of his dear friends, particularly John Heminges and Henry Condell. "As the Folger Shakespeare Library put it, the First Folio is 'the book that gave us Shakespeare,'" shares Book of Will director and MST Artistic Director Rebecca Greene Udden. "That being so, it can then be said that Heminges and Condell gave us the book that gave us Shakespeare." "[THE BOOK OF WILL] serves as homage to those who sacrificed to make the first folio happen and to Shakespeare's magnificent words." - Westword (Denver, CO).

After Shakespeare's death, his plays were pirated, performed and published in inaccurate and clumsy versions. Loyal friends and actors in Shakespeare's company embark on a labor of love to compile the First Folio and preserve the words that shaped their lives. Main Street's talented cast for The Book of Will includes John Feltch as Ben Jonson; Rutherford Cravens as Richard Burbage; Joel Sandel and Dwight Clark as John Heminges and Henry Condell, the members of Shakespeare's company responsible for ensuring the creation of the First Folio; Ivy Castle Simpson and Brittny Bush as Rebecca and Alice Heminges, John's wife and daughter; Elizabeth Marshall Black as Elizabeth Condell, Henry's wife; and rounding out the cast are Brandon Balque, Shane Manning, Blake Weir, and Zack Varela.

The Book of Will has 4 preview performances: Sunday, September 16 at 3pm, and Wednesday - Friday, September 19 - 21 at 7:30pm. The production opens Saturday night, September 22 at 7:30pm and runs through October 21 at MST - Rice Village, 2540 Times Blvd.

Performances are Thursdays - Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $36 - $48, depending on date, section, and availability. All tickets are on sale via phone at 713.524.6706 or online at MainStreetTheater.com.

Part of the Art Series Events for The Book of Will

· Saturday, Sept. 22 at 6:45pm: Opening Night Pre-Show Discussion with the director and designers. Free.

· Join us Sept. 23 for a post-discussion with Prof. Kate Pogue, Shakespeare scholar, author, director, lecturer. Prof. Pogue will give a short talk about Shakespeare and his friends: how we know who his friends were and what they were like. Free.

· Join us on Sept. 30 for a post-discussion with Dr. Elizabeth Klett, Shakespeare scholar, Associate Professor of Literature, University of Houston - Clear Lake. Dr. Klett will give a short talk about the creation of Shakespeare's First Folio and the many unanswered questions that remain today.

· Join us Sunday, October 7 for a post-show discussion with Jon Evans, Chief of the Library & Archives at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Mr. Evans will give a short talk about Shakespeare's Second Folio (1632), a ground-breaking anthology and an object that connects us directly to the Bard today. Free.

· Free Beer Friday: Following regular Friday performances sponsored by Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co. in The Liberty Group lobby (previews excluded).

· After-parties following all Saturday performances, including a special reception on Opening Night, in The Liberty Group lobby.

About the Production Team

The production design team includes Torsten Louis (Set Design), Eric Marsh (Lighting Design), Sonna Southern Schmidt (Costume Design), Shawn W. St. John (Sound Design), and Rodney Walsworth (Properties Design). Debs Ramser is the production stage manager.

About Main Street Theater

Main Street Theater provides theater experiences for all ages. Founded in 1975, our MainStage produces professional, intimate, literary plays for adults and operates under an Actors' Equity Association union contract; our Theater for Youth produces professional, engaging productions based on children's literature for families and school groups, both in-house and on tour around Texas; and we offer Education and Outreach programs on-site and at satellite locations around the Greater Houston area for youth aged 4 - high school. We work out of 2 facilities: our Rice Village home on Times. Blvd., and as part of the MATCH (Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston) on Main Street.

Main Street Theater is a member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national service organization for not-for-profit theaters, of Theatre for Young Audiences/USA (formerly ASSITEJ), the world theatre network of theatre for children and young people, and a founding member of Houston Arts Partners. Main Street Theater is funded in part by grants from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

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