Saturday, January 13, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, January 13, 2001

Shakespeare players revolt in play

By Carl Hartman
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — Shakespeare killed off Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear. How did the characters feel about it — and about him?

Shakespeare's characters had their own viewpoints — still do, says playwright Naomi Claire Wallace.

In her play, "Madman William," Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear meet in a 20th century London pub and discuss their resentment at having to die in every performance.

"Madman William" gets its American premiere Friday at the District of Columbia Arts Center and will continue at other sites in the Washington area through February. Last year it was produced in Edinburgh, Scotland; in Exeter and Shakespeare's hometown, Stratford-on-Avon, in England; and in Prague, Czech Republic.

In a feverish dream scene, Shakespeare himself appears in the pub along with the three tragic figures and Mercutio, who is killed off early in "Romeo and Juliet." Wallace has salted her script with Shakespearean quotes and two horrendous murders of her own.

There's also Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare's wife, worried that he's overtired and not getting his sleep.

There are no other major female roles, however, even though Lady Macbeth, Juliet, Ophelia and Lear's daughter Cordelia also perish every time their Shakespearean plays are performed.

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