After a successful run this past summer at Shakespeare & Company, founding artistic director Tina Packer takes her masterpiece “Women of Will: The Overview” for a spin around the state and across the country. “Women of Will” is the end result of Packer’s 40-odd years spent investigating all things Shakespeare, presented in a five-part series or condensed into a single evening of enlightening entertainment.

The “Overview” version of the production, which plays Thursday and Friday, March 15 and 16, is presented by the State Theater at Crossroads Theater in New Brunswick; includes themes from the full, five-part opus; and covers the full breadth of Shakespeare’s works providing insight into the chronological growth of Shakespeare’s portrayal not only of female characters, but of the qualities traditionally considered feminine. Featuring Packer and award-winning actor Nigel Gore, “Women of Will” is directed by Eric Tucker and includes scenes from “Taming of the Shrew,” “Henry VI,” “Richard III,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Othello,” “As You Like It,” “Macbeth,” and “Pericles.”

Packer and Gore have starred opposite each other in several productions, including “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (which netted Gore an Elliot Norton Award for Best Actor in 2010), “Antony & Cleopatra,” “Hamlet,” and “Coriolanus” (Packer’s all-male version in England last year, which she directed), to name a few.

These two actors and director Tucker have been working together for the past three years fine-tuning “Women of Will: The Complete Journey,” and “The Overview,” guiding it from a workshop piece to a fully realized, five-part series. Last spring, they tried it out on audiences not only at Shakespeare & Company but in Los Angeles; San Francisco, Charlotte, North Carolina; and Boston. And the response in all cases was wild enthusiasm, fascination, and desire for more.

“This project has been a labor of love,” says Tucker. “We’ve been collaborating, formulating, creating, and working on this final piece for the past three years, and of course Tina much longer than that. We’ve examined, debated, discussed, laughed, cried, and argued our way through this process and have come to what we hope is a clear, cohesive piece of work. We’ve also been very diligent about balancing out the narrative with the performance bits, and both Nigel and I continue to challenge and question Tina’s ideas (at her request) to be sure we have a rock solid argument for every scene.

“Working on ‘Women of Will,’ not unlike working on Shakespeare’s plays themselves,” continues Tucker, “is a never ending process of deepening the arguments, finding parallels to our daily lives, sharpening the scenes, and finding new ways to break down the barriers between performer and audience.”

“In studying the female characters in Shakespeare’s plays in the order in which the playwright wrote them, I have been tracing their development and maturation over the span of the canon,” says Packer. “Through his relationship with the women he creates, Shakespeare reveals much about his own character and spirit as an artist. Because the women generally survive outside the power structure of society, they look at, maneuver, and reflect upon the workings of that society, not unlike an artist.

"The feminine sensibilities of intuition, feeling, and relationship parallel those of the artist. So, if you want to know what Shakespeare thinks, listen to the women. Because there are fewer women than men in the plays,” Packer continues, “the women often have a clear definition of being the ‘other.’ And often they manifest the very souls or spirit of the stories. The women have a specific progression from the fighting warrior women and virgins-on-the-pedestal of the early plays; to the heroines who struggle to find themselves in the middle plays; to the daughters who, through their own wholeness, are able to guide their fathers back to life in the late plays.

“I believe the women reflect the development of Shakespeare’s own psyche. Shakespeare, being one of the greatest artists who ever lived, is able to reveal over a 25-year span his mind to us, and this in turn actually exposes on an archetypal level the development of a universal human psyche. I have come to understand myself through this study. I too have been immersed in the plays for 35 years, both as a director and as an actor and have an intimate relationship with most of Shakespeare’s writing. In many ways, my own development as an artist is reflected in the development of his women. First there is the battle, then the negotiation. In order to survive, I personally went underground and now I am coming back from the underground to a new birth — the maiden phoenix if you will. And whole, in a way I never was before.”

“Women of Will: The Overview,” Thursday and Friday, March 15 and 16, 8 p.m. Presented under the auspices of the State Theater, these performances will be presented at Crossroads Theater, 7 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick. $22. 732-246-7469 or www.StateTheatreNJ.org.

After a successful run this past summer at Shakespeare & Company, founding artistic director Tina Packer takes her masterpiece “Women of Will: The Overview” for a spin around the state and across the country. “Women of Will” is the end result of Packer’s 40-odd years spent investigating all things Shakespeare, presented in a five-part series or condensed into a single evening of enlightening entertainment.

The “Overview” version of the production, which plays Thursday and Friday, March 15 and 16, is presented by the State Theater at Crossroads Theater in New Brunswick, includes themes from the full, five-part opus, and covers the full breadth of Shakespeare’s works providing insight into the chronological growth of Shakespeare’s portrayal not only of female characters, but of the qualities traditionally considered feminine. Featuring Packer and award-winning actor Nigel Gore, “Women of Will” is directed by Eric Tucker and includes scenes from “Taming of the Shrew,” “Henry VI,” “Richard III,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Othello,” “As You Like It,” “Macbeth,” and “Pericles.”

Packer and Gore have starred opposite each other in several productions, including “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (which netted Gore an Elliot Norton Award for Best Actor in 2010), “Antony & Cleopatra,” “Hamlet,” and “Coriolanus” (Packer’s all-male version in England last year, which she directed), to name a few.

These two actors and director Tucker have been working together for the past three years fine-tuning “Women of Will: The Complete Journey,” and “The Overview,” guiding it from a workshop piece to a fully realized, five-part series. Last spring, they tried it out on audiences not only at Shakespeare & Company but in Los Angeles; San Francisco, Charlotte, North Carolina; and Boston. And the response in all cases was wild enthusiasm, fascination, and desire for more.

“This project has been a labor of love,” says Tucker. “We’ve been collaborating, formulating, creating, and working on this final piece for the past three years, and of course Tina much longer than that. We’ve examined, debated, discussed, laughed, cried, and argued our way through this process and have come to what we hope is a clear, cohesive piece of work. We’ve also been very diligent about balancing out the narrative with the performance bits, and both Nigel and I continue to challenge and question Tina’s ideas (at her request) to be sure we have a rock solid argument for every scene.

“Working on ‘Women of Will,’ not unlike working on Shakespeare’s plays themselves,” continues Tucker, “is a never ending process of deepening the arguments, finding parallels to our daily lives, sharpening the scenes, and finding new ways to break down the barriers between performer and audience.”

“In studying the female characters in Shakespeare’s plays in the order in which the playwright wrote them, I have been tracing their development and maturation over the span of the canon,” says Packer. “Through his relationship with the women he creates, Shakespeare reveals much about his own character and spirit as an artist. Because the women generally survive outside the power structure of society, they look at, maneuver, and reflect upon the workings of that society, not unlike an artist.

‘The feminine sensibilities of intuition, feeling, and relationship parallel those of the artist. So, if you want to know what Shakespeare thinks, listen to the women. Because there are fewer women than men in the plays,” Packer continues, “the women often have a clear definition of being the ‘other.’ And often they manifest the very souls or spirit of the stories. The women have a specific progression from the fighting warrior women and virgins-on-the-pedestal of the early plays; to the heroines who struggle to find themselves in the middle plays; to the daughters who, through their own wholeness, are able to guide their fathers back to life in the late plays.

“I believe the women reflect the development of Shakespeare’s own psyche. Shakespeare, being one of the greatest artists who ever lived, is able to reveal over a 25-year span his mind to us, and this in turn actually exposes on an archetypal level the development of a universal human psyche. I have come to understand myself through this study. I too have been immersed in the plays for 35 years, both as a director and as an actor and have an intimate relationship with most of Shakespeare’s writing. In many ways, my own development as an artist is reflected in the development of his women. First there is the battle, then the negotiation. In order to survive, I personally went underground and now I am coming back from the underground to a new birth — the maiden phoenix if you will. And whole, in a way I never was before.”

“Women of Will: The Overview,” Thursday and Friday, March 15 and 16, 8 p.m. Presented under the auspices of the State Theater, these performances will be presented at Crossroads Theater, 7 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick. $22. 732-246-7469 or www.StateTheatreNJ.org.

After a successful run this past summer at Shakespeare & Company, founding artistic director Tina Packer takes her masterpiece “Women of Will: The Overview” for a spin around the state and across the country. “Women of Will” is the end result of Packer’s 40-odd years spent investigating all things Shakespeare, presented in a five-part series or condensed into a single evening of enlightening entertainment.

The “Overview” version of the production, which plays Thursday and Friday, March 15 and 16, is presented by the State Theater at Crossroads Theater in New Brunswick, includes themes from the full, five-part opus, and covers the full breadth of Shakespeare’s works providing insight into the chronological growth of Shakespeare’s portrayal not only of female characters, but of the qualities traditionally considered feminine. Featuring Packer and award-winning actor Nigel Gore, “Women of Will” is directed by Eric Tucker and includes scenes from “Taming of the Shrew,” “Henry VI,” “Richard III,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Othello,” “As You Like It,” “Macbeth,” and “Pericles.”

Packer and Gore have starred opposite each other in several productions, including “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (which netted Gore an Elliot Norton Award for Best Actor in 2010), “Antony & Cleopatra,” “Hamlet,” and “Coriolanus” (Packer’s all-male version in England last year, which she directed), to name a few.

These two actors and director Tucker have been working together for the past three years fine-tuning “Women of Will: The Complete Journey,” and “The Overview,” guiding it from a workshop piece to a fully realized, five-part series. Last spring, they tried it out on audiences not only at Shakespeare & Company but in Los Angeles; San Francisco, Charlotte, North Carolina; and Boston. And the response in all cases was wild enthusiasm, fascination, and desire for more.

“This project has been a labor of love,” says Tucker. “We’ve been collaborating, formulating, creating, and working on this final piece for the past three years, and of course Tina much longer than that. We’ve examined, debated, discussed, laughed, cried, and argued our way through this process and have come to what we hope is a clear, cohesive piece of work. We’ve also been very diligent about balancing out the narrative with the performance bits, and both Nigel and I continue to challenge and question Tina’s ideas (at her request) to be sure we have a rock solid argument for every scene.

“Working on ‘Women of Will,’ not unlike working on Shakespeare’s plays themselves,” continues Tucker, “is a never ending process of deepening the arguments, finding parallels to our daily lives, sharpening the scenes, and finding new ways to break down the barriers between performer and audience.”

“In studying the female characters in Shakespeare’s plays in the order in which the playwright wrote them, I have been tracing their development and maturation over the span of the canon,” says Packer. “Through his relationship with the women he creates, Shakespeare reveals much about his own character and spirit as an artist. Because the women generally survive outside the power structure of society, they look at, maneuver, and reflect upon the workings of that society, not unlike an artist.

‘The feminine sensibilities of intuition, feeling, and relationship parallel those of the artist. So, if you want to know what Shakespeare thinks, listen to the women. Because there are fewer women than men in the plays,” Packer continues, “the women often have a clear definition of being the ‘other.’ And often they manifest the very souls or spirit of the stories. The women have a specific progression from the fighting warrior women and virgins-on-the-pedestal of the early plays; to the heroines who struggle to find themselves in the middle plays; to the daughters who, through their own wholeness, are able to guide their fathers back to life in the late plays.

“I believe the women reflect the development of Shakespeare’s own psyche. Shakespeare, being one of the greatest artists who ever lived, is able to reveal over a 25-year span his mind to us, and this in turn actually exposes on an archetypal level the development of a universal human psyche. I have come to understand myself through this study. I too have been immersed in the plays for 35 years, both as a director and as an actor and have an intimate relationship with most of Shakespeare’s writing. In many ways, my own development as an artist is reflected in the development of his women. First there is the battle, then the negotiation. In order to survive, I personally went underground and now I am coming back from the underground to a new birth — the maiden phoenix if you will. And whole, in a way I never was before.”

“Women of Will: The Overview,” Thursday and Friday, March 15 and 16, 8 p.m. Presented under the auspices of the State Theater, these performances will be presented at Crossroads Theater, 7 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick. $22. 732-246-7469 or www.StateTheatreNJ.org.

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