Questions about stage direcitons in Leading Ladies...

Dear Ken,

First of all, let me say that I enjoy your plays immensely and I think this website is a great idea so as to keep lines of communication open between you, actors, directors, designers, etc. I am currently playing Jack in Leading Ladies in Brooklyn. I believe this is the NYC premiere of this play. Our group did Shakespeare in Hollywood last year and I went to see it 3 times (out of a 9 performance run), bringing my parents the third time. After they announced that they were doing Leading Ladies this year, I salivated over the role of Jack until finally getting cast this past January.

A couple of questions, though. The first time we see Leo and Jack, the stage directions say that they "have conflated two different plays and...are ashamed of it". But my second line is from Romeo and Juliet, then Richard III, Hamlet etc. Have they conflated more than 2 plays? Are they messing with each other? Or is this "Scenes from Shakespeare"? - doing lines from Shakespeare as sort of a medley? And is that what they're ashamed of?
Meg%20and%20Leo%20300dpi.jpgAlso, I was doing scene work with Meg and Leo last night, and we were working on Meg/Maxine's first scene together. Once again the stage directions are misleading. It says "this is one of the sexiest and most romantic passages in all of Shakespeare." The actors tend to disagree. Also the stage directions say the tone shifts at ..."With adorations, with fertile tears", and we don't have that line in our script. Is it a misprint? Are we working with the wrong passage? The actors are willing to learn the correct dialogue (with a week and a half left before we open) if you intended to use something else. We are working with the Samuel French version and would really appreciate your input.

Thank you for your time and keep up the great work.

Heights Players
Brooklyn, NY

Ken replies:

Dear Steve,

Thank you so much for your feedback on the website. I'm glad you've found it to be useful. And congratulations on your upcoming production of Leading Ladies! My manager came to see The Heights' production of Shakespeare in Hollywood last year and enjoyed it immensely.

Both of your questions regarding stage directions are the result of mistakes in the printed script. Thank you for catching them.

In the first instance, you are correct: Jack and Leo have conflated multiple Shakespeare plays as part of their performance of "Scenes from Shakespeare." Originally, this scene only included two different plays, but during rehearsals for the premiere at the Alley theatre (which I directed) I revised the scene because it seemed like more fun to have them quote from lots of plays. Knowing that they are performing for such provincial audiences, they've decided to thread together the great lines of Shakespeare thinking that perhaps no one will be the wiser. The stage directions in the Samuel French text are left over from the earlier draft of the play.

You second question involves another mistake in the printing. The passage originally contained this line of Viola's, "With adorations, with fertile tears," but in rehearsals, I cut the scene down and left the original stage direction. In the printed edition of the script, the tone should shift at: "Oh if I did love you in my master's flame."

Thank you again for your email and good observations. We'll make sure that the next printed edition of the play reflects these changes.

Best of luck in your final week of rehearsal. I'm sure your production will be a huge success!

Warm regards,


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