Meetup #39: Lauren Jansen-Parkes’ Margaret of Anjou

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For our 39th Meetup event, WWSF attended Margaret of Anjou produced by Those Women Productions.

Margaret of Anjou is an ‘Undiscovered Feminist Shakespeare Play’ – playwright Lauren Jansen-Parkes uncovers the story of Margaret embedded within Shakespeare’s Henry VI plays and Richard the III, by combining Shakespearean text with additional material and in doing so moves Margaret to the center of the stage in this War of the Roses history play.

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Directed by co-Artistic Director Libby Vega, the cast includes Maria Grazia Affinito*Lily Tung Crystal*Sharon Huff*Melissa Locsin* and Nic Sommerfeld.  (* denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association)

Women artists working on the design/production side include: Arashi Cesana (Stage Manager), Jane Davis (Technician), Carol Lashof (Producer/Co-Artistic Director), Megan Messinger (Props Design/Heads), Genevieve Perdue (Costume Designer), Audrey Ronningen (Production Assistant), Sydney Schwindt (Fight Choreographer), Suzanne Vito (Production Manager).

According to Natalie Orenstein of independent news site Berkeleyside: “Those Women intentionally put on plays in which the female protagonists have the right to be unlikeable and complicated.”  Co-artistic directors Lashof and Vega see a connection between title-character Margaret and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, “another powerful, ambitious woman who is not a fairytale heroine or the fairytale villainess.”

If you saw the production with WWSF or on your own, leave a comment and share your response to the work!

Photo: William Newton

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4 responses to “Meetup #39: Lauren Jansen-Parkes’ Margaret of Anjou

  1. I really appreciate seeing a woman in the center of a Shakespearean story. The UK Guardian really brought the visibility of women (and how much they get to speak) to the fore in this series of infographics back in 2012: http://www.theguardian.com/stage/interactive/2012/dec/10/shakespeare-women-interactive
    I applaud Libby and Lauren and Those Women for making all of this happen! It was exciting to be in a packed theater and hear us all react to the story! Exciting as well to see women in male roles (Sharon Huff tearing up RIII! Lily Tung Crystal’s Warrick changing allegiances throughout) and to see Maria Affinito gracefully take us on Margaret’s journey from innocent pawn to mama bear to wronged monarch. Sydney Schwindt’s fight direction and Genevieve Purdue’s 40’s costuming greatly added to the production for me as well.

    • Thanks Carol. Seeing this company grow and prosper has been a wonderful addition to our Bay Area theater making community!

  2. There were many strong aspects of this production from playwright Lauren Jansen-Parkes’ impressive command of iambic pentameter and her imaginative fleshing out of aspects of Margaret’s story unexamined by Shakespeare, to designer Genevieve Perdue’s clever and stylish 1940’s costumes, to director Libby Vega’s economical staging and bold casting (I LOVED seeing female actors play male generals!) But my favorite element was Maria Affinito’s fierce and finely parsed performance as Margaret. Maria commanded the stage and was absolutely believable as a woman determined to bend the monarchy to her will. I applaud Those Women Productions for being bold enough to put a complex and controversial female protagonist onstage and Maria for manifesting her with such rigor and vigor.

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