2018 Viola Award Finalist for Excellence in Performing Arts
The Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival presented Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” directed by Dawn Tucker in six performances that began July 21 2017. Dawn directed the play using Shakespeare’s Original Staging Practices such as universal lighting, live music, direct audience address, and minimal design elements. For a modern twist, she staged the show in the round using costumes with a timeless flair. During the rehearsal process, Dawn trusted the artistic instincts of the actors of Merry Wives of Windsor who contributed in dynamic ways to shaping the show, both cast and crew dedicated endless hours and all of their talents. Dawn’s focus throughout the directing process was on including the audience as an active member of the ensemble and making sure the language of the play was not a barrier for the audience no matter their comfort level with Shakespeare. This way, the audience could see themselves in the world of the play, better connect to the actors, and have an experience that would expand their empathy. For Dawn, increasing empathy, and thereby bringing our community together, is always the goal of each play she directs.
The Merry Wives of Windsor is a “citizen comedy,” a kind of drama produced in early 17th century England usually set in London portraying the everyday life of the middle class. It is a colorful depiction of Elizabethan England that follows the story of Sir John Falstaff from the battlefield into a romantic narrative. The women of Windsor band together as the lovers of Falstaff to give the crafty knight his punishment for toying with them.
“Merry Wives” is not performed as often as some of Shakespeare’s better-known works. It was brought to Flagstaff this year because The Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival believed it would resonate with today’s audience. The play depicts two married women who must foil the attentions of an unwanted suitor while maintaining a spotless reputation in the community and with their husbands. It is fascinating that, more than 400 years ago, Shakespeare was addressing issues that are still relevant today: sexual harassment, victim-blaming, and the importance and delicacy of maintaining a good reputation.
Raves from the community:
“Flagshakes has brought a revival of the love of Shakespeare to the town of Flagstaff. Not only has FlagShakes brought several plays to a diverse audience over the past three years, but it has also chosen to highlight Shakespeare’s works that focused on female characters, focusing on feminism. Their plays allow for audiences to connect to this foundational art form, while also making it accessible, and NOT boring! They are amazing, full of energy and passion, and they make Flagstaff a better place.”