United by a common love of acting and classic theatre, a group of performers recently banded together to form the Dead Playwrights Repertory based in Haddonfield, N.J. The group's mission is to bring to life the words of long dead, recently dead, and occasionally not actually dead playwrights to the region, and to have fun while doing so.
By focusing on the works of classic and rarely seen works, digging up some lesser known Elizabethan playwrights, and giving well-known plays a different spin, DPR will illustrate these works are full of timeless aspects of human nature that are still relevant today.
DPR’s inaugural production opened Oct. 7 at the Haddonfield Friends Meeting House featuring The Merry Wives of Windsor, written by arguably the greatest Dead Playwright of all time, William Shakespeare, and Lysistrata by Aristophanes (And you don’t get any deader than an ancient Greek playwright.)
The Merry Wives of Windsor utilizes the best traditions of wacky sitcom hijinks and is full of overheard conversation and sexual innuendo. Lysistrata, far from being a dusty old tome from ancient times, is a sexually charged battle of the sexes, wherein the women refuse to sleep with their men until the men agree to stop fighting the war that’s been dragging on for more than two decades. Think "Make Love/Not War" about 2,000 years before the 1960s did it.
The DPR house band, Antic Disposition, will entertain the audience 20 minutes before the show starts and during the intermissions, regaling the crowds with fun and thematically appropriate, yet modern songs.
Based upon Elizabethan staging of Shakespeare’s day, DPR’s minimalist staging is designed to stimulate the imagination using words and actions rather than elaborate backdrops. The thrust staging offers an intimate setting for the audience, and the action happens all around the theater.
These playwrights may be dead, but the words live on, and through them we continue to laugh, love, argue, make up and, on occasion, tell really dirty jokes. Such the the celebatory life of the Dead Playwrights Repertory.
October 15, 2011