Gunn students, faculty, parents, friends, and the community are invited to attend a powerful one-woman show, Shakespeare and the Alchemy of Gender, written and performed by Lisa Wolpe, who will be a guest artist in residence at The Frederick Gunn School next week. The performance is Thursday, October 20, from 8-9 p.m. in the Tisch Family Auditorium of the Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center on campus. Admission is free with general admission seating. No registration is required.
On October 21, Wolpe will host a question and answer session with students in the Advanced Acting class taught by Director of Theatre Arts Kent Burnham, and she will lead a two-hour work session with the cast of the fall play, Men on Boats, which will be performed November 10-12 at The Frederick Gunn School.
Wolpe is an expert on gender-flipping Shakespeare as well as an actress, director, teacher, writer, traveler, and distinguished scholar. Her solo show explores her experiences as an activist for inclusion, diversity, equity, access, and promoting women’s rights and racial equality. It features stories about her family, focusing on her father, Hans Wolpe, a hero in World War II, as well as pieces of Shakespeare, including Shylock, Hamlet, Richard III, and more, elucidating life lessons learned through playing male characters in the Shakespeare Canon.
“Lisa Wolpe’s solo show brings wry humor and Shakespearean insight to a range of wrenchingly difficult subject matters, including sexism, domestic abuse, suicide, and the Holocaust,” according to a review in The New Yorker. “Weaving monologues from her favorite male Shakespeare roles — Lear, Hamlet, Shylock — with reflections on her family history, Wolpe explores her fascination with upending gender conventions as a way to reclaim power in the face of a traumatic past. Many of her family members died in the Holocaust; her father, who confronted Nazis in battle, committed suicide when she was four. Several surviving relatives similarly self-destructed, while, for Wolpe, founding the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company became a form of salvation. ... it’s hard not to credit Wolpe for fearlessness, sincerity, and good humor.”
Shakespeare and the Alchemy of Gender has toured internationally to theaters including: The Rose Playhouse, King’s College, and Central School of Music and Drama in London, Warwick University and Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon in the United Kingdom; Prague Shakespeare Company in the Czech Republic; Bremer Shakespeare, Bremen, Germany; San Francisco Shakespeare Festival; Colorado Shakespeare Festival; Utah Shakespeare Festival; Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Orlando Shakespeare Festival; Whittier College, California, University of California, Santa Barbara, the University of Rhode Island, Boston University, University of North Carolina, University of Georgia and more.
Wolpe has directed and taught Shakespeare at NYU, Emerson, UCLA, USC, Cal Poly Pomona, Whittier College, ACT San Francisco, Boston University, MIT, the American Shakespeare Center, University of Colorado, Boulder, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, King’s College, and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Honors include: The L.A. Drama Critic’s Award for Sustained Excellence; Sidney Berger Award for Excellence from the Shakespeare Theater Association; NBC News’ “Local Hero;” Jacob Bronowski Award for Theater Excellence; Women in Theater’s “Red Carpet” and “Woman of the Year” Awards; Women’s Theater Festival’s “Rainbow Award” for promoting Diversity; “Sustained Excellence” Award from Playwrights Arena; the Key to Harlem; two Congressional Certificates of Merit; Whittier College’s Distinguished Artist Award; University of Colorado “First Scholar” and “Roe Green Visiting Artist” appointments.
In 1993, Wolpe founded the all-female, multicultural Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company (22 seasons), where she worked with over 1,000 women and girls, bringing their voices onto the stage and into the world. In London she created the TranShakespeare project. She holds the distinction of performing more leading male Shakespearean roles in professional theatre productions than any actress in history.