Mary Stuart at The Folger Shakespeare Theatre
I recently went to opening night of Mary Stuart by Friedrich Schiller at the Folger Thetare directed by Richard Clifford in a wonderful translation by Peter Oswald. The Schiller play is particular interesting because he imagines a meeting between Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I, making it the centerpiece of the second half of the play, but such a meeting never took place. Schiller created it to give the play structure and drama - and the meeting between the two titanically strong women is a remarkable moment in world theater.
Historically, Elizabeth kept Mary locked up for 19 years in a castle in England, then beheaded her when the time was right politically. Ever the playwright, Schiller creates a personal antagonism between the two women as they play cat and mouse over the length of England. Schiller is masterful at dramatizing the political pressures that Elizabeth was under to get rid of Mary Queen of Scots, particularly in light of Mary's Catholicism, which undermined Elizabeth as the head of the English church. (There was also that little matter that Mary murdered her husband and married the murderer …) As written by Schiller, the play by nature consists of one long speech after another, but it was lyrical and passionate in the hands of Richard Clifford, whose direction was stunning. There were remarkable performances by the entire cast, and my own favorites were three dear friends, Kate Eastwood Norris as Mary Stuart, Holly Twyford as Queen Elizabeth, and Cody Nickell as the Earl of Leicester. It was a magnificent night and proof that great plays are worth all the trouble.