This weekend in the Wriston Auditorium, Shakespeare will come alive once again in Prescribed Escape Productions’ performance of “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” I sat down with director Alysa Levi D’Ancona and assistant director Bryan McManus to preview their production and gain insight into the new creation that is Prescribed Escape Productions.
The plot of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” revolves around a very questionable knight named Sir John Falstaff, played by Max Kligman. Short of money, Sir Falstaff decides to simultaneously court two wealthy and married women, Mistresses Ford and Page, by sending them two identical love notes. However, both women realize they have received the same letters and decide to play a game of trickery with him. The rest of the play involves mishaps, mistaken identities on all accounts and a good deal of hilarity.
Director Alysa said of the play, “[It’s] the only play by Shakespeare that doesn’t center around nobility. He could be as crude as he wants and include blatant sex jokes because he wasn’t relying on funding from the nobility.” She added with a smile, “It gets to the point where someone gets beaten on stage with a stick. [Shakespeare] doesn’t hold back.” This provided Prescribed Escape with a multitude of comedic gold material that all their actors have put to good use. Alysa and Bryan both said of the cast, “All the characters have great laughs and everyone has their own quirks.” Alysa added that, “Alex Babbit and Brooke Martin have accents we literally cannot do. They both came in day one with great command over it.”
For Alysa, this show is her first big directorial undertaking. “I’ve directed skits for improv and sketch comedy dinner theatre, and co-directed; but this is my first director position at Lawrence.” Bryan directed Lawrence’s “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” but is excited to be taking an assistant directorial role for the Shakespeare production. “I love doing a comedy. There’s always a good atmosphere during rehearsals.” Despite the challenge of getting 15 non-theatre majors’ conflicting schedules to work for rehearsal, both Alysa and Bryan agreed that those rehearsals always improved their days.
For those Lawrentians who remember the Artistic Masturbation Theatre Company, Prescribed Escape Productions is its new brainchild. “We used to be Artistic Masturbation Theatre, but the people who ran it stopped, so we decided to redo it with a new name and constitution,” said Alysa. “It’s been hard to give it new life and a strong presence on campus.”
Nonetheless, Prescribed Escape is endeavoring to make itself known as a place where students interested in theatre can participate. As Alysa put it, “It’s important for people to remember that we are students putting on a show for fun. There aren’t many theatre majors in our ranks and that’s okay.” This is what makes Prescribed Escape Productions so unique and accessible to the general student body.
The show will take place Mar. 2 at 3:00 p.m. and Mar. 3 at 4:00 p.m. in Wriston Auditorium, free of charge. Bryan and Alysa encourage everyone to go: “It’ll be a great laugh for anyone who wants to come, as well as a great ninth week break.”