University City: Local Play Questions History; Brings New Perspective to Shakespeare

The cast of Judith: The Other Shakespeare performed at the Rotunda.
The cast performed Judith: The Other Shakespeare at the Rotunda.

West Philadelphia’s local theater, the Rotunda, hosted the premier of a new musical drama on Sunday. Judith: The Other Shakespeare, written by Kevin Stackhouse, offers a new take of the story of William Shakespeare, where his most memorable work is based on his sister’s life.

According to the show’s program, the play “weaves an intricate fable of what it means to be an artist, from where inspiration flows, and what price one may have to pay for love, art and finding one’s place in the world.”

Stackhouse’s work is in fact based on the writings of author Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. The 1929 essay introduced the fictional character of Judith Shakespeare, the bard’s sister created by Woolf, who at the time neared insanity and eventual suicide.

The cast of Judith: The Other Shakespeare featured several actors from local universities such as University of Pennsylvania and Temple University. The free-admission play will offer a matinee performance on March 18 and conclude with another performance that evening. The theater company’s production has completely relied on donations from theater-goers.

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