by Lauren Gunderson
(April 26 to May 18, 2024)
Director: Jennifer Monteith
Producers: Bridget Jankowski, Nick Munaretto

"Village Players" "Bloor West Village Players" "Village Playhouse" "Runnymede theatre" theatre theater "community theatre" "2023-24" “Book of Will” “Lauren Gunderson”

About the play. . . .

This comedic drama follows Shakespeare’s own company as they attempt to collect and publish the First Folio after his death. Without William Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have Romeo and Juliet, but without Henry Condell and John Heminges, we would have lost half of Shakespeare’s plays forever!

This rapid fire and buoyant play tells the story of those who knew Shakespeare best as they fight to collect 37 of his plays into one volume against all odds. They may not have any money or clear-cut rights to his work, but they’re armed with wit, humour, a deep camaraderie and a passion to preserve the plays that shaped their lives.  In order to honour the legacy of the man they loved, they’ll have to battle an unscrupulous book publisher, a boozy poet laureate, and their own rag-tag company of actors and stage managers.

Amidst the noise and colour of Elizabethan London, The Book of Will finds an unforgettable true story of love, loss, and laughter, and sheds new light on a man you may think you know.  It was winner of the American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, 2018.

About Lauren Gunderson, the playwright. . . .

Lauren Gunderson

Lauren is one of the most produced playwrights in America since 2015 topping the list thrice including 2022/23. She is a two-time winner of the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award for I and You and The Book of Will, the winner of the Lanford Wilson Award and the Otis Guernsey New Voices Award, a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s Residency with Marin Theatre Company. She studied Southern Literature and Drama at Emory University, and Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship.

She has also written a play about her spouse – how many playwrights can say that? He’s virologist Nathan Wolfe and the play is The Catastrophist.  Other plays include The Half-Life of Marie Curie, I and You; Exit Pursued By A Bear; The Taming, Toil And Trouble, The Revolutionists; Silent Sky; Bauer, Natural Shocks, The Wickhams, Miss Bennet, and Emilie. She wrote or contributed to the book for musicals Jeannette, The Time Traveller’s Wife,  Sinister, Justice, Earthrise), and Built for This. She has also written a picture book Dr Wonderful: Blast Off to the Moon.

Gunderson says this about The Book of Will:

This play is a valentine to all theatre and all theatre-makers. The comedy comes from the characters knowing each other so well – the level of friendship where you can tease and support at the same time. Another part of the comedy for me is taking something that is so revered and just kind of breaking the glass around it”

About Jennifer Monteith, the director…

"Village Players" "Bloor West Village Players" "Village Playhouse" "Runnymede theatre" theatre theater "community theatre" "The Fighting Days" "Wendy Lill" "Valary Cook" “Avery MacDonald” “Frances Beynon”; “Carling Tedesco” “Lily”; “Julie Kern” “Nellie McClung”; “David Borwick” “George McNair” “Letter Readers”: “Victoria Stark”, “Jennifer Monteith”, “Louise Da Re”, “Karen Drybrough”

This is Jennifer’s second time directing for Village Players, following 2019’s Murder Weapon.  In the last couple of years alone, she has also acted in Fighting Days (2023) Radical and Nested (zoom, 2023 & 2022), been production photographer for Dead Accounts (2023), stage-managed The Impossibility of Now (2022), and was a Board member until 2021. 

Other significant Village Players acting roles have been Mary Ticklewell in Anybody for Murder, Mrs. Erlynne in Lady Windermere’s Fan, and Lady Gertrude Chiltern in An Ideal Husband. She has also produced Village plays and looked after props, costumes and hair for others. She has done many of the same things for other local theatres – notably East Side Players, Alumnae Theatre and Cabbagetown Theatre.

Jennifer studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art [England] and during the day successfully pretends to be a banker.

In honour of our 50th season: to see an archival photo and cast/crew list of another Village Players “Shakespeare / not Shakespeare” play (1986 Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead), click on the 50th logo below.

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