P R E S S
"Matches anything found on the boards at the RSC!"
- Backstage West
"Top Ten Theater-Makers!"
- LA Weekly
"One of the Ten Coolest Things to Do in L.A.!"
- LA Magazine
Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company is an award-winning
multi-cultural theater company has been featured on CNN, PBS, CBS, ABC, NBC,
and London's International News, and won dozens of awards.
LAWSC was honored with the 2008 LA Drama Critics Circle's "Margaret Harwood
Award for Sustained Excellence".
"Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company, after years of stand-out
productions, has nothing left to prove... Lisa Wolpe, who founded the
company, and is producer, director, and a superb actor, has played a
diversity of Shakespeare's male roles … her current Shylock may be the
most outstanding of any viewed in a multitude of productions, here and in
- Madeleine Shaner, Backstage West
SHARON PERLMUTTER, CRITIC FOR TALKIN'BROADWAY.COM, & ASSOCIATE PRODUCER OF
THE LA DRAMA CRITICS AWARDS, AWARDING LISA WOLPE AND LAWSC THE 2008 "MARGARET HARFORD AWARD FOR SUSTAINED EXCELLENCE":
The best thing about being a critic -- well, no, the free tickets, thanks
very much for that. One of the best things about being a critic is that…
I'm shy. And when I happen to meet one of you, whose work I admire, … When
I meet a theatre performer or designer whose work speaks to me; someone who
makes artistic decisions which brilliantly illuminate something about a play
or the human condition; someone who manages to create that magnificent
intersection between text and theatre; who brings me to that breathtaking
moment where my universe becomes nothing but the play and me, and I
desperately want that moment to last forever…. When I meet one of you who
has done that, I will invariably say, "Uh, I like your work." And what I
love about being a critic is that I can organize my thoughts, and carefully
select upwards of 500 words to tell you that I get it. I get what you are
trying to do and I want everyone who reads me to go out to the theatre and
get it too.
And now I have 90 seconds to spell out to the L.A. Women's Shakespeare
Company, and to tell you, exactly how freakin' amazing they are.
I don't know exactly what went through Lisa Wolpe's head when she founded
the company back in '93. I imagine she thought, "You know, Bill
Shakespeare--" (I imagine they're on a nickname basis.) She thought, "Bill
has written some of the best damn roles in the English language, and I have
some pretty good ideas about how I'd like to interpret them; and while there
have been some great strides in non-traditional casting, if I'm going to get
to play these roles anywhere other than my living room, I'm going to have to
do something about it. And I'm going to take some other women on this
journey with me, to fully explore Bill's plays in ways they've probably
never been able to before."
Now, if you take one thing away from this, one thing about L.A. Women's
Shakespeare, it's this: It is not a gimmick. L.A. Women's Shakespeare is
not about, "Oh, look! A bunch of women in drag, burping out loud and
scratching themselves, playing at being men. How cute." L.A. Women's
Shakespeare is about putting on honest, thoughtful productions of
Shakespeare's plays, without being limited by gender, and, in the meantime,
doing their part to even out the cosmic scales from all that time
Shakespeare's women were played by men. And the fact that the company has,
at its center, what is simply one of the best Shakespearean actors of this
generation, is reason to anticipate, and delight in, every new production.
I was actually introduced to L.A. Women's Shakespeare by some friends, back
in '97, long before I started writing about theatre. The play was "Measure
For Measure," and I discovered a perceptive production of this "problem
play," containing imagery that still haunts me today. And my friends would
call me every year, making plans to see the next play. ("Who is Lisa
playing?" I'd ask, and the answer always led to a discussion of, "Ooo,
that's gonna be good.")
One year, we brought with us a young friend of theirs -- a teenage kid more
interested in basketball than the Bard. And we somehow managed to get him
into his seat without seeing the photos of the performers in the lobby, or
knowing anything about the company. During intermission, we slyly asked him
if he'd noticed anything unusual about the performers. He hadn't. We took
him out and showed him the photos, gleefully pointing out that the company
was all female. "No way!" he said. "Not all of them." "Yeah, all of them." "OK, not that one. That one's a dude." "Nope, woman." "OK, OK,
but that one's a dude."
And while I'll admit to a strange little joy in pulling something over on
this streetwise kid, what was really remarkable about this wasn't that he
didn't know the company was comprised of women. What was remarkable was
that this kid watched, understood, and was entranced by A Midsummer Night's
Dream. And got a little reminder that the potential of women is unlimited.
And that's freakin' amazing.
I am very proud to present the Margaret Harford Award for sustained
excellence in theatre to L.A. Women's Shakespeare.
− SHARON PERLMUTTER