Wives may be merry, and yet honest too ...
Let’s get this out of the way—Zoom theatre isn’t exactly theatre, but it isn’t exactly not theatre either. It’s something new, a hybrid form. The disadvantages you’re already familiar with from oh-so-many video conference calls—Zoom fatigue, eye strain, wandering attention and the lack of human connection. But there are advantages too. For the first time, we have actors from outside Hawaii performing in all three of our shows this season, and audiences from around the world tuning in to watch. That’s exciting.
I’m thrilled to see how the directors of this year’s Festival have taken the shows in such wildly different stylistic and technical directions. While we’ve all taken cues from other offerings and each other, we’ve had to work to invent and establish conventions in a what is, essentially, a brand-new medium. (For Merry Wives, because it’s a comedy, I’ve taken great delight in establishing strong conventions early in the show, only to subvert them later for comic effect.) Even after we can come together on an actual stage again, theatre artists will be exploring the possibilities of this new format.
Merry Wives of Windsor holds a special place in my heart as the first full-length show I ever acted in (Kennedy Theater, 1993, under the direction of Terence Knapp), and the show that made me fall in love with Shakespeare. Many have said that it’s better to see Shakespeare performed than to read him. Let me add that it’s better still to perform (or direct) his work.
I’m incredibly grateful to have been joined in this journey by an enthusiastic, talented and generous cast who have adapted brilliantly to this new medium, turned their bedrooms and living rooms into home broadcast studios and endured what has been, essentially, a six-week tech rehearsal. And by a design team, who gave this show as much or more effort as a “real” production (aside from not dressing the actors below the waist). Thank you all.
And thanks to you, the audience. Knowing that you’re out there watching is what makes this, in my mind, theatre after all. Though we miss sharing space with you, we feel your presence, and we deeply appreciate it.
In his years teaching, creating, promoting and performing theater in Hawai‘i, Professor Knapp touched thousands of lives. While he tackled a wide variety of theatrical projects, it was Professor Knapp’s boundless joy for teaching and presenting Shakespeare that we hope to honor with this festival. It is our sincere wish that our affection and respect for our beloved teacher finds a voice in these productions. The Hawaii Shakespeare Festival is dedicated to Terence Knapp.
—R. Kevin Garcia Doyle, Tony Pisculli, Harry Wong III
Dame Judi Dench, Companion of Honour by the Queen’s personal gift and Britain’s Most Outstanding Actress (as voted by her peers) has consented to be the Patron of the Hawaii Shakespeare Festival at the invitation of Terence Knapp.