Tina Packer Stars in Women of Will

Shakespeare & Company Preview on February 28

By: - Feb 03, 2010

Tina Tina

For one night only, Tina Packer , Shakespeare & Company's Founding Artistic Director, presents a very special sneak peek of her nearly completed opus, WOMEN OF WI L L : Following the Feminine in Shakespeare's Plays. Packer, who received a Guggenheim Fellowship to develop this signature work, has presented it in various workshop iterations over the past fifteen years. The completed version will include five parts. A one-part, Overview iteration will makes its world premiere with three performances at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester , England in March. Packer presents a special preview of WOMEN OF WI L L at S&Co.'s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre on February 28 at 7pm. All seating is by general admission, and tickets are $26 each.
S&Co.'s usual range of discounting options are available for this performance, including discounts for groups, students, Seniors, and the very popular 40% Berkshire Resident Discount. The Bernstein is wheelchair accessible and hearing aid assisted. Contact the Box Office at (413) 637-3353 or to order tickets or learn more about discount availability, or order tickets from
Featuring Packer and S&Co. favorite Nigel Gore, Women of Will is directed by Eric Tucker (Pinter's Mirror) and includes scenes from Henry VI, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, As You L ike It, Macbeth, Pericles and Henry VIII. The scenes provide insight into the chronological growth of Shakespeare's portrayal not only of female characters but of the qualities traditionally considered feminine.
"The title itself has several meanings: obviously 'Will' in the sense of William Shakespeare. By looking at the women in the order in which Shakespeare wrote them, we can see how his attitude towards women changed over the years—and it did profoundly," Packer says.  "But 'will' also means will power or the will to power, and so we look at how women use power or how it is used against them. Finally, 'will' in Elizabethan English means sexual desire, or even the sexual parts. We will be examining how sexual desire is used in the plays. We'll not be looking at the parts,"Packer adds with a laugh.
The performance presented February 28 is the comprehensive Overview version of the full, five-part program yet to be unveiled. The Overview encompasses Shakespeare's whole canon, touching on the major points in each of the five acts. WOMEN OF WI L L : Following the Feminine in Shakespeare's Plays  runs approximately three hours, with one intermission. Packer, Gore and Tucker will be available in the Bernstein lobby following the performance to meet patrons and continue the discussion.
"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, and have from the time I was a young actor to becoming a director and teacher," Packer says. "With each play, 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 and creative life."
Eric Tucker (Director) Regional directing credits: Stella Adler Theatre: Hamlet (w/ William Hurt). Trinity Repertory Company: Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night. VCPA: Sanctuary (North American Premiere), Man of L a Mancha . Redlands Shakespeare Festival: Measure for Measure, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet. SFGT: Macbeth, Closer.  Burning Coal: Watership Down (World Premiere). Beowulf: Angels in America Parts I & II, Saint Joan.  Shakespeare & Company: Pinter's Mirror
Tina Packer was born in England and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She was an associate artist with the Royal Shakespeare Company and performed in the West End and on BBC television. Recognized by more than 20 awards, honors and fellowships, she has twice received the Elliot Norton Award, as well as the state's highest cultural honor, The Commonwealth Award, in addition to Guggenheim and Bunting Fellowships. In 2009, the Boston Globe called her "one of the state's great figures."  She has directed nearly every Shakespeare play. Packer's recent onstage roles at Shakespeare & Company include Queen Gertrude in Hamlet (2006, 2008 national tour, and 2009), Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra (2007), and the title role in Shirley Valentine (2009). She played Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Boston Publick theatre last fall, and has upcoming engagements in spring and summer 2010 in England as well as at Shakespeare & Company.
Nigel Gore S&Co: Claudius in Hamlet, Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Marc Antony in Antony and Cleopatra, Lavache in All's Well That Ends Well, Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night. Recent work: George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Ms. Packer at the Boston Publick, George Pye in Humble Boy by Charlotte Jones; Henry Carr in Travesties by Tom Stoppard at the Boston Publick. Seasons 2 and 3 of "Brotherhood" on Showtime.