The power of women, according to Shakespeare – Bay State Banner

Renowned Shakespearean actress Tina Packer is equally convincing as a steely Lady Macbeth, an impassioned Juliet and an anguished Desdemona.

Packer plays all these women and more in her exploration of Shakespeare’s heroines, “Women of Will.” Directed by Eric Tucker and presented by the Nora Theatre Company at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, the production distills Packer’s investigation into Shakespeare’s female characters, insights she has gleaned from directing and performing nearly all of Shakespeare’s plays.

The founder of Shakespeare & Company and until 2009 the artistic director of the 34-year-old company, Packer has crafted an intimate, five-part sampling of Shakespeare’s canon. Each part explores a new turn in Shakespeare’s evolving understanding of women.

“Women of Will: The Overview,” is on stage through Oct. 30.  From Nov. 4-6, Packer will perform “Women of Will: The Complete Journey,” which expands the overview into five full-length performances over three days.

By no means a shorthand version, the overview is a richly packed evening of theater. Together with fellow Brit Nigel Gore, a seasoned actor who is a natural as her partner, Packer performs a chronological sampling of scenes from plays throughout Shakespeare’s career. In between, she conducts a conversational master class with the audience. Occasionally, the two actors pull an audience member into the action to play a listening father or lord or the minister to whom their characters recite marriage vows.

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10/18/11 Tina Packer Brings Shakespeare’s Women Of Will To Life In Central Square- WGBH

Tina Packer knows Shakespeare. She’s directed every major Shakespeare play and is the founder and artistic director of Shakespeare & Company, which she has built into one of the largest and most critically acclaimed Shakespeare Festivals in North America. Her latest project is a staggering, five-part, on-stage examination of every single female character in Shakespeare’s cannon. If it sounds like a daunting task, it is. But it’s widely believed that if there is one woman in the world who could pull it off, it’s Tina Packer. She joins us to discuss Women of Will, running this month at Central Square Theater.

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Star-Crossed, Tamed or Tragic: A Tour of Shakespeare’s Heroines – New York Times – June 25, 2010

LENOX, Mass. — Because Shakespeare’s Juliet is so irresistibly star-crossed, love-drunk and young, people tend to forget just how intelligent she is. Not Tina Packer. Portraying the female half of tragedy’s most popular double-suicide act, at the Founders’ Theater of Shakespeare & Company here, Ms. Packer glows with the energy of a quick, bright mind discovering — and enjoying — itself.

When this Juliet asks her Romeo (Nigel Gore) not to swear by the moon in the balcony scene, she’s not just dreamy and swoony. She’s playfully but sincerely considering the implications of every word she speaks. You sense a natural poet examining all the images she uses from all angles, as if not to do so would be irresponsible. What Juliet is feeling here is too deep and potentially dark to be expressed lightly, and language has never felt more important to her.

Juliet, of course, never makes it to the age of 14; Ms. Packer is past 70. Yet there’s nothing wince making about the marriage of septuagenarian actress and teenage character that concludes the first act of “Women of Will,” Ms. Packer’s lively and illuminating tour through a carefully selected gallery of Shakespeare’s heroines.

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Women of Will, the Complete Journey
, by Tina Packer
 – Berkshire Review – June 12, 2011

Women of Will, The Complete Journey
, by Tina Packer
, with Tina Packer and Nigel Gore
Shakespeare & Company, Bernstein Theater, Lenox, Massachusetts
Through July 10, 2011

For lovers of Shakespeare and those new to or fearful of the bard, Tina Packer’s “Women of Will, The Complete Journey,” aka “WOW,” playing in Parts I-V on five evenings and matinees through July 10 at Shakespeare & Co’s Bernstein theater, is more than a wow—it is a tour de force for acting, conception, and for what theater was for the Elizabethans and what it can be now, but often is self-consciously not. These performances hold to the Elizabethan venue with imagination leading the way. The five parts illustrate a different theme, repeating in a sense the five-act dramatic structure of Shakespeare’s plays.

For theater: this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I can’t stop thinking about what I saw, what I heard, what I learned. The cumulative experience, by the end, felt as if we all made appearance on the stage, and that the characters had been set spinning, not tightly wrapped, ready to be wholly identified and embraced again.

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In the News: Tina Packer’s Women of Shakespeare

Yesterday Tina “appeared” on WBUR/NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook to discuss Women of Will. An excerpt from the 45-minute in-depth discussion and call-in segment:

“In many ways I’ve been working on this piece for the whole of my artistic life, and I have to ask the question: why should a 21st century feminist spend her time with a dead white male? Well, the answer is because I grow, expand, understand myself better with every play in the canon I immerse myself in, from young actor to director and teacher – and I have now directed almost every play he wrote. My awareness expands. He says things in such a way as allows me to understand the world – politically, psychologically, physically, poetically, philosophically – that change my personal life. He’s the man I would most like to sleep with, if you will – I’m really sorry he’s dead! And in many ways he ain’t dead. He infuses the world with life, and it’s all open to interpretation…”

Listen now to “Tina Packer’s Women of Shakespeare” at WBUR and NPR – On Point with Tom Ashbrook.