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MAINE PREMIERE OF SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE LIGHTS UP THE STONINGTON OPERA HOUSE STAGE

STONINGTON-Opera House Arts (OHA) is thrilled to celebrate twenty years with its first mainstage production of the season, Shakespeare in Love, a delightful comedy celebrating theater-making and the freedom found in love; love of craft, love of another, and love of community. Shakespeare in Love, playing July 18-28 at the Stonington Opera House, is the stage adaptation by Lee Hall of the Academy Award-winning screenplay written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. Julia Sears, returning after serving as Associate Director on OHA’s production of The Tempest at Ames Farm last summer, directs.

“The story we’re telling is one in which love frees the characters from the restrictions placed upon them by society. This is a play full of joy, raunch, language and love,” says director Julia Sears. 

After OHA’S nineteen Shakespeare in Stonington productions, all traditionally penned by the Bard, Shakespeare in Love marks their first departure from his canon, but holds all the drama, poetry, and wit audiences have come to expect. Lee Hall’s clever adaptation of the beloved film is a tongue-in-cheek celebration of Shakespeare himself, love, and the swashbuckling joy of putting on a play in Elizabethan London.

ABOUT THE PLAY

Young Will Shakespeare has writer’s block: the deadline for his new play is fast approaching but he’s in desperate need of inspiration. That is, until he finds his muse–Viola. This fierce young woman is Will’s greatest admirer and will stop at nothing to appear in his next play. Against a bustling background of mistaken identity, ruthless scheming, and backstage theatrics, Will’s love for Viola quickly blossoms and inspires him to write his greatest masterpiece. 

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

Julia Sears is a director, writer, and fight choreographer based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work is a mix of heightened language and movement elevating the stories of women across America. She is currently developing Bullet Catchers, a devised play exploring the official inclusion of women into combat jobs in the U.S. military. Julia is the creator of the Lady Parts’ interview series Fierce as F**k. Other recent work by Sears includes directing The Horse In Motion’s critically acclaimed immersive production of Hamlet. As well as assistant directing the world premiere of Abe Koogler’s  Fulfillment Center (Dir. Daniel Aukin) at Manhattan Theatre Club, and the regional premiere of Lydia Diamond’s Smart People (Dir. Desdemona Chiang) at Long Wharf Theatre.  Julia has worked with various artistic and social justice organizations over the past 15 years. Most recently the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the nation’s leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the US, most of whom are women. Previously she worked with Bond Street Theatre, an organization that initiates creative programming for conflict resolution and peace building that reach women, children, and refugees around the globe. In 2006 Julia co-founded the Empty Chair Theatre Company, a 501c3 organization created as an educational forum for young theatre artists in the Washington, DC area to study and perform Shakespeare’s works. Julia is a graduate of the University of Washington. She trained in Shakespearean text and performance with Shakespeare Theatre Company (DC), Folger Shakespeare Library (DC), Baltimore Shakespeare Festival (MD), The Shakespeare Forum (NY), Studio Theatre (DC), Synetic Theatre (VA) and American Shakespeare Center (VA). She has worked as the fight director for over fifty productions around the country. 

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

Lee Hall was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1966 and studied English Literature at Cambridge University. He has worked as a writer in theatre, TV, radio and film. He has been writer-in-residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company and Live Theatre, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Theatre: Wittgenstein on Tyne, Live Theatre,1996; Bollocks, RSC Fringe, 1998; Genie, Paines Plough, 1998; Cooking With Elvis, Live Theatre/West End 1999 – nominated for an Oliver Award for Best Comedy; Spoonface Steinberg, Ambassadors Theatre, London 2000; Two’s Company, Live Theatre/Bristol Old Vic, 2001; Billy Elliot the Musical, 2004 – Oliver Award Best Musical; Pitmen Painters, Live Theatre, Newcastle/Royal National Theatre/ National tour/Broadway, 2007-2010. Theatre adaptations: Leonce and Lena (Buchner), The Gate Theatre, 1997; Mr. Puntila and his man Matti (Brecht) Almedia Theatre, 1998, A Servant to Two Masters (Goldoni) RSC/ Young Vic 1999; The Adventures of Pinocchio (Collodi), Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, 2000; Mother Courage (Brecht), Shared Experience/Ambassadors Theatre; The Good Hope (Heijermans) Royal National Theatre, 2001; The Barber of Seville (Beaumarchais), Bristol Old Vic, 2003. Opera: Adaptation of Il Pagliacci/The Comedians for the English National Opera, 2008. TV : Spoonface Steinberg, 1997, BBC; A Prince of Hearts, 1998, BBC; Wind in the Willows, 2007 BBC. Film: Billy Elliot, Working Title Films, 2000. His screenplay for War Horse directed by Steven Spielberg came out in 2011.

All tickets for upcoming performances can be purchased online, as well at the Opera House box office, or by phone at 207.367.2788. Shows do sell out and advance tickets are recommended. Visit operahousearts.org for a full schedule and to purchase tickets. The July 18th performance is a Pay-What-You-Wish preview. All students, K-12, from Hancock County and surrounding islands can attend any OHA live performance for free.   

This Shakespeare in Stonington production is generously underwritten by Judy & Ray McCaskey and an Anonymous donor.

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