Imagine the chance to sit in on rehearsals of the first production of “Hamlet,” one of the greatest plays written by one of the greatest playwrights of all time.
That’s what happens in “The Shakespeare Stealer,” a play by Gary Blackwood that he adapted from his popular young adult book series of the same title.
Widge, a young orphan, is asked by his master to steal Shakespeare’s text. It’s an adventure that students across the state will share with the cast of Idaho Theater for Youth. ITY, an educational outreach program for Idaho Shakespeare Festival, is producing.
“It’s really a fun story,” says director Tom Ford. “Along the way we learn about Shakespeare, his time and how his theater company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, worked. There are lots of life’s lessons, such as how the choices we make affect others, what loyalty means and about how we connect through emotional families as opposed to biological ones.”
For one special performance, the whole family can enjoy it at the Morrison Center. This is the second ITY play to be performed at the center. Last year’s “Maggie Lumiere and the Ghost Train” was so popular that ISF applied for and received a Morrison Center Endowment Foundation Grant to produce it.
Widge, played by Patrick Kiernan, is an orphan during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. He is first apprenticed to a preacher who teaches him to read and write in shorthand so he can steal the other preachers’ sermons. When his service is sold to another master, he’s told to transcribe Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” before the bard can have it printed — but he gets caught.
So smitten by the production, Widge confesses that he wants to become an actor, and the acting company takes him in.
Of course, because he’s a young boy, he is given the female roles. In Elizabethan England, women were not allowed to perform on stage by law so characters in “Hamlet” such as Ophelia and Queen Gertrude were originally played by men.
In the company, Widge makes friends and meets a young woman in the company, played by Jaime Nebeker, who masquerades as boy so she can be an actor, similar to the plot in the film “Shakespeare in Love.”
Ford, a longtime ISF repertory company member and artistic associate, used that idea as a jumping-off point to play more with gender, as his six actors each play two to three other characters.
“We shake up the gender thing,” Ford says. “That helps kids see that anything is possible.”
The fun Elizabethan-style costuming is by Boise State University’s Darin Pufall and is made from contemporary items such as shower curtains and hook rugs. The colorful set is on rollers and helps the play flow from scene to scene.
2 p.m. Saturday, April 2, Morrison Center, 2201 Cesar Chavez Lane, Boise. Free.
‘Pirates of Penzance’
There still are tickets available for Opera Idaho’s presentation of the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players’ production of “The Pirates of Penzance, or A Slave to Duty.”
If you’re at all a fan of the clever, funny and lively world of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, you won’t want to miss this show by a company that is considered the “leading custodian” of this duo’s work in the world.
7:30 p.m. Friday, April 1, Morrison Center, 2201 Cesar Chavez Lane, Boise. $25.50-$76.50. Ticketmaster.
Lunafest hits The Flicks
Films by women and for women are hard to come by in this macho, superhero crazy world. Now, you can see six short films that are just that at the annual Lunafest Film Festival at The Flicks, 646 Fulton St., Boise.
This year’s lineup showcases the work of six women filmmakers from around globe. The films tell stories about women and the issues they face and embrace.
This year’s films include Pasadena, Calif., filmmaker Sarah Feeley’s documentary short “Raising Ryland,” about parenting a 6-year-old transgender boy; Finnish filmmaker Hanna Maylett’s “First World Problems,” about a woman who loses her car in a shopping mall and finds her life transformed in Oakland, Calif.; and filmmaker Meg Smaker’s “Boxadora,” a documentary about a 38-year-old Cuban woman who has been training in secret as a boxer and now has a chance at an Olympic medal.
The festival benefits Soroptimist International of Boise and its programs that enhance the status of women and girls in the Treasure Valley.
12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 2, The Flicks, 646 Fulton St., Boise. $15 at the box office. TheFlicksBoise.com.