Posted on Feb 24, 2000

Series of one-act plays 'reimagine' seven of Shakespeare's love sonnets – which 'defy the constraints of time and twist the borders of gender'

What do you get when you ask some of America's most powerful writers to develop plays based on their contemporary interpretation of Shakespeare's sonnets? The Acting Company, a national repertory theater, found out when it commissioned acclaimed writers Eric Bogosian, Ntozake Shange, Marsha Norman, Tony Kushner, William Finn, Wendy Wasserstein and John Guare to create short plays based on seven of Shakespeare's love sonnets.

Produced by special arrangement with The Acting Company, Love's Fire opens at Union College's Yulman Theater on Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. Other performances are: Feb. 25 – 26, 8 p.m.; Feb. 27, 2 p.m.; March 2 – 4, 8 p.m. and March 5, 2 p.m. Tickets, at $7 ($5 for students/seniors), are available at the Union College Box Office: 388-6545.

“Taking their inspiration from Shakespeare's sonnets, these writers walk the line between the weird and the wonderful,” said Kelli Wondra, theater professor at Union and Love's Fire director. “All the plays are cutting-edge as they explore man's capacity for love, compassion, and cruelty.”

From the book, Love's Fire: “Eric Bogosian's Bitter Sauce (Sonnet 118) presents a fragile farce of sexual jealousy and obsession; Ntozake Shange's streetwise response to Sonnet 128 comes up as the hip-hop Hydraulics Phat Like Mean; Marsha Norman invents a daisy chain of betrayal with 140 (Sonnet 140); Tony Kushner examines a hilariously paranoid episode in love, loss, and sexual ambiguity set in a psychiatrist's office with Terminating, or Lass Meine Schmerzen Nicht Verloren Sein, or Ambivalence (Sonnet 75); William Finn transforms Sonnet 102 into a song about an artist attempting to paint his lover – and failing – with Painting You; Wendy Wasserstein's Waiting for Philip Glass is a sharp drawing-room comedy set in the Hamptons (Sonnet 94); and John Guare charms with his witty and wide-ranging look at the problems of creating such a play in the first place in The General of Hot Desire (Sonnets 153 and 154).”

Love's Fire premiered at The Guthrie Theater Lab in Minneapolis, Minn. On Jan. 7, 1998. The Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote” Ohboyohboy…it turns out to be…inspired.”