All’s Well That Ends Well Opens at Fletcher Collins Theatre

April 24, 2012

Three performances of All’s Well That Ends Well are scheduled for May 4, 2012 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday May 5, 2012 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Fletcher Collins Theatre on the Mary Baldwin Campus, 318 Prospect Street, Staunton.

Mary Baldwin University Shakespeare and Performance MFA candidate Linden Kueck directs Shakespeare’s hotly contested, female-centered fairytale romance. The production explores problematic gender identities through its all-white, pop-up book, and paper-crafts visual aesthetic. The show relies upon the metaphor of paper and pen as gendered: paper as the passive, female recipient of male authority through the inscription of the active, phallic pen. In this context, pop-up books are used as a female form of expression, where the paper, rather than the writing, tells the story. The play features pop-up letters, an oversized pop-up book to represent the setting, and more. The performance also employs cross-gender casting to expose the ways in which gender identities are social constructs. Female actors fill significant male roles and a male actor fills an important female role.

The play centers on a young female heroine, Helena, who falls in love with the son of her wealthy benefactor. She goes to court, hoping to heal the dying French king and marry her love, Bertram. Although she successfully restores the king to health, Bertram protests that he does not love her. The king forces the two into wedlock and Bertram plots to run away with his friend Parolles to fight in an Italian war. He sends Helena a note explaining that he will only marry her if she can get the ring he wears and become pregnant with his child — an impossible task. Helena leaves France and makes her way to Florence — where it turns out Bertram’s army is encamped. Through a series of clever tricks, Helena fulfills the demands of his letter. The play ends with their reconciliation before the king and Bertram’s mother, the countess.