Equivocation

by Bill Cain
directed by Bill Rauch
originally produced at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR.
April 18,2009 through November 1, 2009

Subsequent production at the Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles, CA, Marin Theatre Company Mill Valley CA, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle, WA, and Manhattan Theatre Club, New York, NY.

About the Premiere Production:

Equivocation is the story of Robert Cecil, spymaster and minister to James I and Queen Elizabeth, and his imagined attempt to commission William Shakespeare to write about the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, the most infamous of the many unsuccessful assassination attempts against the King. Shag, the play’s Shakespeare character, struggles to write a play that tells the true story of the conspiracy. In the process, he explores what it means to tell the truth, to equivocate, and to lie – in politics, art and life.

One of the goals of this project is to reintroduce to American audiences a national artistic treasure, a brave voice too long absent from American theater. Bill Cain’s muscular and courageous writing is absolutely contemporary and authentically American. In Equivocation he engages us with a classic story that reflects a Shakespearean standard in a very familiar historical setting – but a story that speaks to universal issues of political power and art and how the two collide; a story that is absolutely relevant to Americans today. In fact, Equivocation knocks over a lot of sacred cows about our namesake playwright. Its terrifying resonance with contemporary world events is never forced, but a bracing reminder of how little humanity has changed over the centuries.

Artistic Statement

Equivocation is un-flinchingly honest and unsentimental, shockingly relevant and wildly entertaining. I am especially pleased and proud that Bill Cain selected the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to produce the world premiere. This extraordinary play is a perfect fit for OSF. As the country’s oldest and largest repertory Shakespeare theater, this is precisely the kind of new work this company should be producing. Equivocation does exquisitely well exactly what Shakespeare’s plays do – reflects on its own time by using the frame of another time in history. It is a play that is absolutely relevant today; one that speaks to universal issues of political power and art and how the two collide. Equivocation also touches on such contemporary themes as torture for political reasons, the conflict between church and state, and the way that manipulation (and Equivocation) can shape political landscapes and the personal lives of citizens. The play feels especially contemporary in its treatment of the repression of minority religious viewpoints by a corrupt dominant culture, and how the latter uses unethical means to silence the former.
Equivocation explores the repercussions of England’s break with the Catholic Church. We are especially proud to present itin juxtaposition with Henry VIII (running June to October 2009 on the outdoor Elizabethan Stage) and Macbeth (February through October in the Angus Bowmer Theatre), a triple bill that will thrill OSF’s large, loyal and sophisticated audience of Shakespeare playgoers.. Henry VIII chronicles the famous monarch’s initial break with Catholicism; Bill’s play deals with the tragic repercussions of that schism over 100 years later. Macbeth is the play that Equivocation’s play-within-the-play eventually becomes.

Director: Bill Rauch
Set Design:Christopher Acebo
Lighting Design:Christopher Akerlind
Costume Design:Deborah M. Dryden
Dramaturg:Lue Douthit and Barry Kraft
Director: Bill Rauch
Set Design:Christopher Acebo
Lighting Design:Christopher Akerlind
Costume Design:Deborah M. Dryden
Dramaturg:Lue Douthit and Barry Kraft
Music/Sound Designer: Andre Pleuss
Movement Director:John Sipes

Subsequent Productions:

at the Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 18-Dec. 20, 2009, at Marin Theatre Company, Mill Valley, CA Seattle Repertory Theatre, WA Nov. 18 – Dec. 13, 2009, and Manhattan Theatre Club, NY, Mar. 10, 2010.

News

Equivocation announced as part of Seattle Repertory Theatre’s 2009-10 season.
- Seattle Times

"Geffen Playhouse to stage 'Equivocation,' with Shakespeare as propaganda tool" -
Los Angeles Times

The official site of the premiere production

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